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Ofcom says mobile contracts should ditch inflation-related price rises

Ofcom says mobile contracts should ditch inflation-related price rises

UK telecoms regulator Ofcom wants to ban inflation-related rises in phone and broadband contracts. Instead, it says any potential mid-contract price rises should be set out in pounds and pence.
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Global smartphone market is set for recovery, says new forecast

A new forecast from research specialists Canalys shows the smartphone market is set to recover next year. Worldwide shipments declined by 12% last year but that decline is expected to slow to 5% this year.
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Vodafone and Three plan to merge their UK businesses

Vodafone and Three plan to merge their UK businesses

New Hutchison/Vodafone network would be biggest UK operator

Vodafone Group plc and CK Hutchison Group Telecom Holdings Limited have agreed to combine their UK telecommunication businesses, respectively Vodafone UK and Three UK. The merger will create a large new network operator to compete with Virgin Media O2 and EE.
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UK mobile payment service Paym to close in March 2023

UK mobile payment service Paym will close on 7th March 2023. The service, which allowed users to make and receive payments using their mobile phone numbers, was launched in 2014.
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Qualcomm legal action moves forward in the UK

Qualcomm legal action moves forward in the UK

Which? seeks payout for Samsung and Apple smartphone owners

Consumer protection organisation Which? has been given permission by the UK's Competition Appeal Tribunal to represent Apple and Samsung smartphone buyers in a legal case against chip manufacturer Qualcomm.
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Opinion Articles

Friday, July 26, 2013

Top Ofcom tips when taking your smartphone or tablet abroad

Mark Bridge writes:

With the school term over and August just a few days away, UK telecom regulator Ofcom has published a new guide to help travellers avoid ‘bill shock’ after using their mobile phones, tablets and laptops abroad.

It’s reminding consumers that calls, text messages and data charges are likely to cost more when you’re ’mobile roaming’ outside your home country… and can be even more expensive outside Europe.

Claudio Pollack, Consumer Group Director at Ofcom, said “No one wants to return from a relaxing holiday to be faced with an unexpectedly high data bill. Ofcom’s guide offers essential advice for consumers so they don’t get burnt by bill shock this summer.”

Ofcom has now started to warn customers about the risks involved when customers choose special roaming tariffs. Although these can offer benefits of convenience or cost, they also involve opting out of the EU law that limits call, SMS and data prices. It’s a topic we’ve mentioned several times in our podcasts.

Ofcom’s tips for 2013 include:

Download before you leave home
Downloading and streaming can be prohibitively expensive when abroad, so stock up on movies and music before you go away.
Talk to your provider – If you are planning to go online while abroad, speak to your provider before you leave. They may have specific packages for using your device abroad designed to offer discounted rates, including data roaming bundles.

Talk to your network
They may have a choice of special deals for travellers. Alternatively, you may also want to pick up a SIM card from another network that offers special rates around the world.

Turn off data roaming
Restricting your phone to calls and text messages can save you from worrying about automatic updates affecting your data bill.

Use WiFi
Using local WiFi hotspots lets you stay online without using a 2G, 3G or 4G mobile connection.

Buy a local SIM card
This can save money because you’ll pay local prices, not international charges. However, some phones may be ‘locked’ to a particular network - and some countries may have rules that make it difficult for foreigners to buy a SIM. You’ll also have a different number when you’re abroad.

Know your charges and be careful about opting out
Mobile network operators are legally obliged to limit your monthly data costs to €50+VAT (around £52 incl. VAT) when you’re abroad anywhere in the world - and to restrict call, text and data costs when you’re in Europe - but these rules don’t apply if you choose a special ‘roaming’ package.

Check your children
Turn off mobile data if you give your smartphone or tablet to a child - and warn them of the risks if they have their own mobile device. Encourage them to let you know if they receive any warning messages about costs.

Tell your network if your phone is lost or stolen
Report any loss or theft of your phone - or its SIM card - to your network as soon as you realise it’s missing. You’re likely to be held liable for any charges until the loss or theft is reported. Setting up a PIN code on the SIM card and the phone increases your security and reduces some of the risk if either handset or SIM is stolen.

[Ofcom guide to using your smartphone or tablet abroad (pdf); Ofcom video guides for avoiding bill shock]

As well as being part of the team at The Fonecast, Mark Bridge is a freelance writer who specialises in technology. He also turned up on Channel 4 television earlier this year offering money-saving tips for mobile phone users.
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