Fear the roaming rip-off merchants, warns Europe

You could pay buckets for mobile usage...

You could pay buckets for mobile usage...

The European Commission has warned travellers to be wary when using their mobile phones abroad or find themselves lumbered with a huge bill when they return home.

With substantial differences between roaming tariffs in different countries within the European Union - between €0.58 and €5.01 per minute - the EC believes mobile subscribers aren't getting the best deal when using their phones abroad and operators aren't doing enough to change that situation.

As a result the EC, backed by national telecoms regulators, is trying to mobilise awareness among holidaymakers and business travellers on the issue of whether their operators are giving them a fair deal.

To that end, the EC will be publishing a list of sample tariffs from operators around the EU to give users an insight into how much their fellow Europeans are spending.

Viviane Reding, the Commissioner for Information Society and Media, said in a statement: "I am convinced that substantially more progress from the industry is both necessary and possible. We need to get to a stage where consumers can benefit from better deals than they are currently getting."

The EC has already taken action against two operators - Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone - which it believes have been exploiting their monopolies to boost roaming costs.