Roaming Warning

With the new data roaming regulations that came into force yesterday, much of the talk has centred on the welcome news that its going to cost less to go talk, text and sruf the mobile web on your phone in the EU from now on. But independent consumer website Broadband Genie has issued a warning, reminding consumers of the cost of using USB dongles to surf the web on your laptop abroad. It points out that downloading one TV show via mobile broadband while abroad on holiday could cost more than the rest of the trip combined.
As of yesterday, the wholesale cost of data in the EU (ie, what suppliers pay each other) was capped at 1 euro per MB by the European Commission. UK mobile broadband providers 3, T-Mobile and Vodafone have all reduced prices to 1.50 per MB or less for EU roaming. However, this is still much more expensive than UK data roaming, while non-EU roaming can still cost more than 6 per MB. Theres a full list of data roaming charges here.
Broadband Genie notes that a single TV episode can comprise between 200MB – 550MB of data, depending on sound and picture quality. A film will be anywhere from 700MB to more than 1.5GB. At 6 per MB then, that must-see episode of The Wire (at, say, 350MB) could set you back more than 2,000, while a DVD quality film could cost around 9,000 in data charges. Even at Vodafone's market-leading rate of 9.99 for 50MB in the EU, a 350MB show would cost 70, while customers on 3 or T-Mobile would be looking at an EU bill around 500.
The most popular services such as the BBC iPlayer and Sky Player only work in the UK, but there are many ways to download shows and films online, says Broadband Genie Editor, Chris Marling. If you feel you have to take a UK mobile broadband dongle on holiday, make sure everyone understands it's for basic browsing only. Otherwise, you could be in for a nasty surprise on your return.