Monday, 21 July 2014

Fwd: Ofcom advice: Don't get stung by mobile phone bills when abroad this summer

Ofcom advice:

Don't get stung by a high mobile phone bill this summer

Summer holidays are just around the corner for many, and with mobile internet access and Wi-Fi it's never been easier to stay in touch with what's going on at home and upload photos to share with friends.  Also, new roaming charges (effective from 1 July) will make it cheaper to use your mobile phone when travelling abroad in the European Union.
However, coming back from holiday to a huge mobile phone bill can be a nasty surprise. Using your phone overseas can cost considerably more than it does at home, particularly if you want to surf the web a lot or check or send a number of emails.  

What you can do to avoid a bill shock:
  • If you want to use your phone lots check what packages your provider offers, considering buying an international SIM card or buy a local pay-as-you-go SIM when you reach your destination;
  • Turn off data roaming. You can run up a big bill without actively using your phone as smartphones and tablet computers automatically seek out mobile connections and use them to update apps. It's easy to turn it off and we have video guides to show you how.
  • If you are travelling outside of the EU, you may want to switching off your voicemail as you may be charged every time a message is left while you are abroad.
  • If you want to use the internet abroad use local Wi-Fi hot spots rather than your phone's mobile internet connection. Some phone apps seek out hot spots and alert you to them automatically.
  • If you are going to use your phone's internet connection instead of Wi-Fi avoid data heavy activities such as watching videos or downloading music.  Also, when checking emails avoid opening large attachments. 
What are the rules?
  • All mobile operators have to apply a cut-off limit once you have used €50 (excluding VAT) – around £40 – of data per month, wherever you travel in the world unless you choose to opt out.
  • You may be prompted to opt out by your provider if, for example, you purchase a large data roaming bundle which would take you over the €50 limit. If you're not sure whether you have been asked to opt out, make sure you check with your provider.
  • If you don't opt out of the limit, the provider must send you an alert when you reach 80% and then 100% of the agreed data roaming limit. Operators must stop charging for data at the 100% point, unless you agree to continue to use data.
Our advice guide provides top tips for using a mobile abroad including advice on how to keep phones safe and what to do if your phone is lost or stolen. 
Please share this information and our advice guide with your constituents via blog, press release and twitter to ensure they know how to avoid a bill shock this summer.
Helen Barker
Manager, Government & Parliamentary Business
020 7981 3960
Twitter: @ofcomparliament

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