Apr 10th 2012

The ‘phone’s a ‘phone for British holiday makers

Data services take a back seat for Brits abroad as mobile use reverts to original features – calling and texting

With 1.5 million British holiday makers expected to travel overseas over this Easter weekend, research revealed today by GOSIM.com has found that while 54% of them will be using their mobile phones to make and receive calls and text messages, very few will be accessing social networking and other data services.

Despite the dramatic rise in social networking, the survey of 1,012 UK consumers in April 2012 found that just 11% consider this to be the most important feature of their phones when on holiday. The figures do rise to 22% and 19% respectively for 18-22 and 23-35 year olds, giving a strong indication of the trend. For most of them, this social interaction may be burning a hole in the holiday fund given the charges levied by mobile operators for data ‘roaming’. 23% of 56-70 year olds may know that; they prefer not to be disturbed and switch off their mobiles altogether!

“Using your mobile abroad can be a costly and often unknown expense, leaving many Brits hesitant to use their phone in the same way they would at home, with many choosing to minimise use to basic functions, switch it off or only use it in emergencies,” said John Assiter, GOSIM.com.”

GOSIM.com notes that even those who use their phones sparingly can be caught out, particularly if they have talkative friends and family at home. One cost that consumers often overlook is receiving calls. For the receiving subscriber, these can cost anywhere from 11p per minute in Europe to more than £1 per minute further afield depending on your operator.

“Holiday makers generally cut back on calling, texting, social networking and web browsing when abroad, primarily because of their exposure to roaming costs but for savvy travellers with a ‘travel SIM card’, it is possible to use your phone’s full feature set overseas without taking out a bank loan.” continued Assiter.

The European Union and Ofcom last month announced a phased plan, starting in July this year and running until 2014, to force operators to cut costs for phone calls, messages and data for anyone roaming in Europe. Currently travellers that choose to use data abroad, without a bundle plan in place, will be cut-off once they hit a spend of €50.

GOSIM.com warns British travellers not to rely on their domestic providers when heading abroad and advises that they should include their mobile phone in their preparations. They don’t have to be hit with huge charges, or even risk having their service cut if they go over the spend limit. If they are going to use their phone for calls, text or data, they should consider using a specialist travel SIM card that includes significantly discounted rates.