Cheaper European smartphone usage from July

Travellers to Europe after July 1 can look forward to the lowest ever data roaming charges when carrying their smartphone.

Legislation passed by the European Parliament means that the cheaper phone usage prices from July are set to become cheaper still during 2014.

From July 1, the most that a mobile operator can charge a customer to access mobile data in Europe is £0.56 per megabyte, a substantial reduction on charges that are currently being imposed. From 2014, overseas smartphone users will also have the right to use a different provider to the one that they use at home, in a move that is intended to encourage greater competition.

The legislation has come about in the wake of large numbers of travellers returning home to extortionate mobile phone bills, often generated at the ignorance of the user by features that are constantly updated by the home provider when the phone is left switched on, even if it is not used directly. Such usage will now be capped at £40.00, after which the user will have to be informed and agree to further charges. Call charges are also being capped at £0.23 per minute plus VAT.

The changes that are being imposed will result in overseas mobile usage charges showing an 85 percent reduction compared with those imposed in 2007.

However, caution will still be recommended when using smartphones in Europe, as the amount of data that specific applications use is unpredictable and can vary greatly dependant on location and individual systems. This means that despite the hefty price reductions, undisciplined usage could still lead to a nasty surprise when the traveller returns and opens their phone bill.