Positive Trends in Mobile Roaming Cost

It amazes me what mobile phone carriers get away with charging for international data roaming. It’s not just that it is expensive, it’s astronomically expensive, and surely can’t have anything to do with the business costs associated in providing the service.

For casual data roaming my carrier charges 20¢ per 10 kilobytes[1]. When I compare this to the email currently sitting in my inbox, the smallest message would have cost me 30¢ to receive, and the largest, with several PowerPoint attachments, $172!

So stories like this one by Michael Grothaus about cheaper roaming within the European Union are undeniably positive:

As of today, roaming fees are dropping significantly and will drop even further a year from now.


[T]he new rate charges, which are in full legal effect as of midnight last night, are now reduced by 12 percent per minute for incoming calls. Text messages are 11 percent cheaper than they were yesterday, and roaming data charges are down a whopping 36 percent. At €0.45 per MB, roaming data charges are now 91 percent cheaper than they were in 2007.

To take advantage of these reduced roaming rates it appears travelers need a SIM card from a carrier in a European Union country. Although not a major drama for non-European travellers, who just need to source a SIM on their arrival in Europe, I’m looking forward to when international roaming charges between all countries are charged at a much more sensible level.

(Under the EU data roaming rates to come into effect from 1 July 2014 that $172 email would cost me a much more reasonable €1.72—although that still leaves plenty of room for improvement.)

  1. Although I should note that they offer substantially cheaper unlimited data roaming packs with a limited number of countries, for short periods of time.  ↩