Mobile networks could soon be made to tell customers when they’re going to incur roaming charges for using their phone abroad, regulator Ofcom has announced.
The telecoms regulator is consulting on new rules which would require all networks to proactively send customers personalised alerts as soon they start roaming, detailing how much it’ll cost them to use their phone and any action they can take to limit their bill while out of the UK.
The alerts would also include details of any relevant spending cap the customer has on their account and include instructions on where to find free details on roaming charges, fair use policies and how to monitor, reduce and limit spend.
Cristina Luna-Esteban, Ofcom’s Director of Telecoms Consumer Protection, said: “Millions of UK holidaymakers head abroad every year and want to stay connected on their travels. But without clear information from their provider, they could find themselves facing an unexpected bill for calling home or going online.
“These alerts would mean whichever mobile provider you’re with, you won’t be left in the dark about roaming charges and action you can take to manage your spending.”
Ofcom is also looking to toughen up rules on inadvertent roaming which happens when a customer is in the UK but connects to a non-UK network.
This is especially an issue in Northern Ireland, where Ofcom research suggests 22% of customers inadvertently connected to Irish networks in the last year, but can also affect users in other parts of the UK, including along the English coast where some customers can find themselves connecting to French networks.
Ofcom is proposing to introduce new rules requiring networks to provide customers with clear information about how to avoid inadvertent roaming and to have measures in place to enable customers to reduce and/or limit their spend on roaming while in the UK.
It also suggests offering special tariffs or treating mobile usage in Ireland the same as being in the UK, which some providers already do.