Friday, March 22, 2013

EU data roaming costs for Irish bill-pay customers

For bill-pay customers of Irish mobile operators travelling in the EU, using data roaming is still incredibly expensive, even after the imposition of a 86c per MB cap by the EU last year to limit somewhat the massive overcharging by operators.

When the cap was imposed, Meteor even had the cheek to claim that it was "abolishing data roaming charges", when in fact it was simply being forced by the EU to reduce it's charge from the outrageous €10.24 per MB (no, that's not a typo - over €10 per MB!)

But some of the Irish operators provide a roaming data add-on, and by using these add-ons the cost per MB works out at:

  • Vodafone4c per MB (50MB for €2, per day)
  • O28c per MB (25MB for €2, per day)
  • eMobile and Meteor40c per MB (50MB for €19.99, per 30 days)
  • 3 & Tesco Mobile don't do an add-on, so you pay 86c per MB
  • 48 doesn't provide data roaming

A huge difference in cost! As an unfortunate eMobile customer currently locked into a contract, I pay 10 times what a Vodafone customer pays per MB, with a minimum add-on charge of €19.99.

It is true though that with Vodafone, it's €2 per day with a 50MB limit for that day, whereas the eMobile 50MB add-on can be spread over up to 30 days. But even taking that into account, eMobile is still massively more expensive.

So if you are likely to be roaming in the EU and using the internet, and free to sign-up with a different operator, Vodafone is your best buy. O2 is twice as expensive as Vodafone, but still way ahead of the rest.

Of course, cheaper again is to get a local SIM card when you arrive in the country you are visiting, and pay as you go.

There is slightly better news on the horizon. The EU is due to reduce the cap from 86c/MB to 55c/MB on 1 July 2013, and to 25c/MB on 1 July 2014 (those prices include 23% VAT). This may prompt some of the operators to reduce the price of their add-ons.

UPDATE (17/Jun/2013):
This just in... the European Commission has voted to end all EU roaming charges by 1 July 2014. Hallelujah!

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