T-Mobile slashes data-roaming charges

Overseas data charges are finally coming down, in the face of legislative pressure from Europe

T-Mobile is cutting its data-roaming charges by 60 percent, starting this Friday.

UK business travellers will be charged just £3 per megabyte, down from £7.50 per megabyte, for sending and receiving data when travelling in nine countries. The announcement is the first move by a UK mobile operator to substantially reduce overseas data charges.

Voice-roaming charges have started to tumble after the European Commission tabled proposals last July to force operators to reduce their prices. The Commission initially concentrated on tackling voice charges in preference to data. T-Mobile's announcement may be an indication that the Commission's strategy is about to change.

The Commission told ZDNet UK on 2 February that the European Parliament was applying "strong pressure" on the Commission to resolve the issue. A spokesperson said that only voluntary cuts by the mobile operators would negate the need for the introduction of a new legislative approach that also covered data charges.

T-Mobile's reductions apply to business customers using its network in the US, Germany, Netherlands, Austria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. The mobile operator said that "we are always looking to review our roaming costs and strive to offer the most competitive tariffs where possible". It added that it intends to cut data-roaming rates for its consumer customers "in time for the summer holidays".

T-Mobile's head of corporate communications, Robin O'Kelly, meeting ZDNet UK two weeks ago, said that his company "needs to do more" on data-roaming charges.

T-Mobile's announcement coincides with the 3GSM mobile industry conference in Barcelona. None of the other mobile operators have so far announced cuts to their data charges.