T-Mobile customers can now add broadband boosters to their monthly or Pay As You Go package to avoid unwelcome and unexpectedly large bills awaiting them on their return for things such as data usage.
The new bolt-ons, called 'Internet Travel Boosters' and 'Broadband Travel Boosters' will allow a customer to add them to their package on arrival at their destination. The user is simply redirected to a page where they can buy the add-ons when they first connect to a mobile network, T-Mobile said.
"Once the purchase is complete, they can immediately continue to browse the internet, update Facebook, email or download apps and documents without the worry of paying more than they expect when they return from their travels," T-Mobile said in a statement.
The internet booster allows smartphone-only usage while the Broadband booster can be used with "all mobile broadband devices", such as dongles and tablets.
Pricing for the boosters starts from £1, T-Mobile said. The amount of data allocated for each booster depends on the country being visited. For example, within Europe a £1 internet or booster plan would provide 3MB of data usage. To get the same amount of data use while on holiday in the US would require a £5 booster.
However, visiting places further afield, such as Hong Kong, still attracts significant commitments, with 3MB of data costing £20. Currently, and without the bolt-on, T-Mobile customers visiting Hong Kong are charged £7.50 per MB for data. Increasing the amount of the bolt-on does provide some economy of scale, but 20MB of data, even with the bolt-on, will still cost £75.
It's still down to consumers to protect themselves and make bill shock a thing of the past.– Ernest Doku, uSwitch.com
The decision to reduce costs, albeit primarily within Europe, makes T-Mobile the fourth of the five major UK operators to announce reduced roaming rates before the new EU roaming regulations come into effect on 1 July. Only Orange is yet to announce new rates.
Earlier in June, Vodafone also announced it was cutting its prices for roaming within the EU. The EuroTraveller add-on costs £3 per day and allows contract customers to use their normal monthly call time and data allowance. Out of bundle charges are then charged at UK rates.
Despite the clampdown from regulators on roaming rates within the EU, Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at price-comparison site uSwitch.com, doesn't think some of the new measures go far enough.
"We have now seen four of the five major providers take steps to protect their customers. However, with Orange still to show its cards and some of the packages not going quite far enough, it's still down to consumers to protect themselves and make bill shock a thing of the past," Doku said in a statement.