An SMS sent out to O2UK subscribers this week indicates that the cost of making and receiving calls outside of the EU is set to rise dramatically. In some cases international call charges to the firm’s end users will more than double by the end of November.
According to the SMS, from November 28 O2 is changing the cost of calls and text messages for users travelling outside of Europe. So the cost of making a call from the US to Europe will increase to £1.10 per minute from £0.90, while receiving a call will go up to £0.90 from a current price of £0.39. The cost of text messages will jump from £0.25 to £0.40, while data will remain at £6 per MB.
Telecoms.com is presently gearing up for the AfricaCom event in South Africa next month and just happened to be checking O2’s roaming rates when the new prices were announced. For calls outside of North America and Asia Pacific (rest of world or zones 3 and 6 as O2 calls it), prices will increase to £1.50 per minute to make a call and £1.25 per minute to receive. That’s up from £0.60 to make and £0.43 to receive in South Africa, or £1.20 and £0.85 respectively when in Brazil; where O2 parent Telefónica has a domestic network.
Vodfaone’s UK website shows that calls are charged at £1.65/minute to make and £1.30 to receive in Brazil, but £0.80 and £0.75 where it has a network interest.
O2 had not responded to our request for comment at the time of going to press, but the price hike is almost certainly designed to offset the drop in roaming revenues within the EU, following sustained regulatory pressure from the EC. O2 now deducts European calls and messages from the user’s bundled allowance after a £0.50 connection charge, and allows 25MB of data to be used for £1.99 per day.
Commenting on Telefónica group’s results for the first half of 2012, César Alierta, executive chairman, said the company had experienced a stronger negative impact from regulation than envisaged.
A spokesman for O2 UK added: “We’re changing our roaming prices for the first time in over 5 years – it isn’t anything to do with the EU roaming caps.
“This is about simplifying our roaming pricing structure and we’re reducing the number of world zones. There will also be reductions in rates for calling out of zone too, so in your example below, it will cost you £1.79 to call France, but from 28 November, you’ll pay the same price as a call back to the UK – £1.10 whichever country you call from the USA.”