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300 million extra customers for mobile networks when roaming charges end, survey claims

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The vast majority of Europeans traveling overseas limit their use of mobile data services due to the cost, perceived or real, of the roaming charges, according to an EU funded study.

The European Union is currently pushing for the scrapping of roaming charges within the EU zone.

The survey shows that 28% of those who travel in the EU switch off their mobile phone when going to another country. Only 8% of travellers use the phone abroad in the same way as at home making a phone call. 3 out of 10 never phone when being on a trip in another country.

There are marginally more people texting than phoning when going to another country: 2 out of 10 would text while abroad in the same way as in their home country. The survey shows that a quarter of travellers never text when going to another EU country.

The numbers for mobile Internet abroad are even more catastrophic. Majority of respondents: 47% would never use e-mails and social media in another EU country. Only 1 out of 10 would use e-mails in the same way as at home and only 1 out of 20 would use social media in the same way as at home.

The report also found that frequent travellers - the most lucrative section of the potential market - are more likely to switch-off their mobile phone data roaming capabilities than the occasional travellers. The Commission believes this is because frequent travellers are better informed about the real costs of data roaming in Europe than less frequent travellers.

European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes said: "I am honestly shocked by these figures. It shows we have to finish the job and eliminate roaming charges. Consumers are limiting their phone use in extreme ways and this makes no sense for the companies either."

The Commission is working to achieve a Single Market when making a phone call or browsing the Internet. The aim is to achieve a combination of regulatory obligations and market incentives which will induce mobile operators to extend their domestic plans/bundles so that by 2016 at the latest, customers throughout the Union are able to use their phones and smartphones at domestic rates while travelling throughout the Union).

The aim is to create a single European communications space by phasing out and eliminating the difference in charges paid for domestic, roaming and intra-EU calls.

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Tags: roaming