I'm about to renew / churn both my business and personal phone contracts, and so I'm wading through all the current tariff plans and options.
Looking over my bills from the last year, the largest variable monthly cost tends to be international data roaming - picking up email from abroad, using the web on my phones, and so on. I don't tend to make many international voice roaming calls - anything lengthy is usually prearranged, so I can use SkypeOut from my laptop via WiFi or ethernet.
But although there's been a lot of movement in laptop data pricing over the last 6 months, with some (comparatively) sensible roaming fees, that's still not true for handset plans.
I really resent paying £7.50 per MB to roam on T-Mobile - even to Germany or to other on-net T-Mo subsidiaries. And don't get me started on the £3 / MB costs for even domestic data on my personal O2 phone.
Unfortunately, these prices have hardly shifted in the last 18 months. If you can actually find the tariffs cunningly hidden on the operators' websites, you find that (prices including VAT):
O2 - £7.05 / MB
Orange - £6.50 / MB
Vodafone - £5.00 a day or "up to £10.28 per MB"
T-Mobile - £7.50 / MB
BT doesn't seem to give any details at all of data roaming costs.
3 doesn't seem to allow data roaming in most countries unless it has its own local network for X-Series, although then it's free if you're a subscriber (if I'm reading it correctly)
Frankly, these prices are ridiculous. I'd say they are overpriced by at least 2 orders of magnitude, or arguably 4. Putting traffic on the Internet costs well under £1 per GB.
These prices are more than some tariffs using data via satellite with an Inmarsat BGAN or similar.
I posted a while back that the EU is keeping an eye on data roaming. Well, Ms Reding if you're reading, now might be a good time to start waving a very large stick. Come to think of it, Ofcom might want to have a look as well.
EDIT A brainwave....
I wonder if you could write a Symbian / Windows / Java app that emulates an old-world 56k modem over a cellular voice connection? 56kbit/s = 7 kBytes/s = 420kBytes / min.
So 2.5 Mins = 1 MB....
So in Europe with the new EU capped roaming rates, if you could squeeze 56kbit/s into the voice channel, you'd be paying about €1.14 per MB... or about £0.80p. Which just goes to illustrate how much of a ripoff the whole thing is. You could even use a much less demanding audio modem @ 9.6kbit/s and still pay less. And if you did some sort of callback function so you receive the call inbound whilst roaming, the rates are half that sum.
Forget VoIP, this is IPoV......
This must be feasible - someone needs to do this NOW.
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