Virgin Media has introduced mobile data bundles for customers travelling within the European Union.
The mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) launched the 'Travel Pass' range of bundles on Monday, which are valid for fixed periods of time and come with data caps. The aim is to make customers' data-roaming expenditure more predictable, Virgin said.
Twenty-four hours of data via a handset is priced at £6, with one hour at £4. One day's access via a mobile broadband dongle costs £10, and a 30-day mobile broadband pass is £60. There are tight data limits of 10MB for the one-day and 60MB for the 30-day mobile broadband pass.
Those rates compare with Virgin's standard fee of £5 per megabyte for mobile broadband use abroad.
Mobile operators have been trying to stimulate roaming demand for mobile broadband since the European Commission introduced stringent pricing regulation on voice and data. The margins on domestic mobile broadband usage are low, so trying to stimulate demand for roaming mobile broadband is a natural move for operators.
However, some customers are being put off using voice and data abroad by reports of 'bill shock', where people have found themselves charged thousands of pounds for roaming. It is possible to request a monetary cap on expenditure on a mobile account to prevent this happening.
Virgin's packages follow the extension last week of an offering from Orange which gives mobile-broadband roaming at a daily rate of €2 for 2MB. This compares with its pay-as-you-go rate of £3 per megabyte.
When the allocated data is consumed, roaming customers are either cut off or charged overage rates — which can be particularly high — depending on the operator concerned. Virgin's payment system works on the former basis.