ZDNet UK has set up a petition against the unnecessarily high data-roaming charges levied by operators on those who want to use iPhones and other such devices while abroad.
The first signatures appeared on the petition on Tuesday, when ZDNet UK launched extensive coverage of the data-roaming issue. Charges for data roaming can be as high as £10 per megabyte, despite the fact that the actual cost of providing such services is around 1-3p per megabyte.
Data roaming is no longer a niche market — it used to be, which is why prices are so high, but many businesses and consumers now use the mobile internet as a matter of course, and they want to continue doing so despite crossing borders. High data-roaming mark-ups — ZDNet UK estimates these to be in the thousands of percent, at the least — are not only discouraging people from using their smartphones, tablets and laptops while abroad, but also stifling a whole emerging sector of applications that would serve those who are travelling.
The petition sets out a charter that ZDNet UK believes operators should adopt. The first element of the charter is transparency. As the charter states, "the cost networks charge each other for carrying customer data should be declared to the networks' local regulators, who should publish regular market reports giving consumers reasonable insight into the charges".
The charter also calls on operators to, within two years, cut their data-roaming prices significantly. "Prices mobile networks charge each other for carrying each other's customers' data should be no more than 100 percent higher than the actual cost of carrying that data," it states. "Prices mobile networks charge their own customers for data roaming on other networks should be no more than 100 percent higher than the cost charged by those other networks to the customers' network."
Finally, the charter calls on operators to establish "an open and free market in data roaming, giving consumers the ability to choose roaming deals independently of their domestic contract".
The petition will be open to new signatures for around two months, after which it will be presented to the big operators.