Millions of UK mobile users don’t understand international roaming charges – and go so far as to avoid making calls as a result. A new study, by market research firm, TNS indicates that it is confusion over service charges, in addition to the price of calls, which is preventing international roaming from really taking off.
A fifth of mobile users cite confusion over roaming pricing as their primary reason for using their phone less when abroad. Surprisingly this is especially true of younger consumers, where nearly a quarter (24%) of those aged 16-34 are still baffled by the costs of using their mobiles abroad.
The study also found that 17% of consumers would increase the amount of data services (like the mobile internet) they used if network providers offered them a fixed bundle package. Again this is truer of the 16 to 34 year olds, who are used to having bundled deals at home in the UK; 23% would use their phone more abroad if this type of deal were available. Similar findings were also seen in France where 14% of consumers said they would use their mobile more if they were offered a fixed bundle.
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TNS’ research highlights a key opportunity to encourage more consumers to use their mobiles overseas without the need to dramatically reduce prices. Simplifying current pricing structures and ensuring clear communication of these would go a long way towards reassuring consumers that they can more easily manage their mobile phone spend abroad.
“It is important for all consumers, but particularly those on pre-paid contracts, to know exactly how much it will cost them to use their mobile internationally,” says Amy Cashman, Managing Director of TNS Technology UK. “However, there is a huge opportunity among both the pre-paid and contract markets for network providers to develop ‘overseas packages’ that can be sold when consumers go abroad.”
Positive moves have been made towards clarifying charges to the consumer through the introduction of text messages which tell the user how much certain services, such as making and receiving calls, will cost. However the study indicates that 37% of UK consumers still do not use MMS messages when abroad and 41% do not use any data services even though they use these services in the UK. This indicates that the biggest hurdle for providers is persuading consumers to use their phone for more than purely communication needs when abroad.
Cashman continues: “If network operators can successfully generate more targeted bundles for overseas travel, we believe this doesn’t mean that consumers will choose the cheapest deal, but that they will find it easier to identify the best deal for them. These facts will serve as a useful basis for the ongoing debate over roaming charges in the EU.”
Source: Cellular News.