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O2 hikes cost of calls and texts for roaming outside Europe

The mobile operator is set to raise charges for sending and receiving calls and text messages from countries outside Europe at the end of November - with some prices set to more than double.
Written by Ben Woods, Contributor

O2 customers will pay more to make or receive calls or text messages when travelling outside of Europe, starting from late November.

O2 is putting up its call charges for customers roaming outside the EU. Image: O2

People on Pay Monthly contracts will see a rise in charges, the mobile operator revealed on Monday. The cost of some services will more than double when the changes come into effect on 28 November. For example, customers receiving a call in the US or Canada will pay 90p per minute, up from 39p — an increase of more than 130 percent. Making a call will be £1.10 per minute, up from 90p.

The largest price jump is for an incoming call in a Zone 3 country: Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey. This is going up from 52p a minute to £1.25 — a hike of 140 percent.

"We've made the changes to simplify charging and to align ourselves with the competition and yet still remain competitive," O2 said in a statement.

O2 also noted that the move is the first change in its roaming pricing for contract customers in five years.

Phone services while travelling in other countries will see smaller price increases — but increases nonetheless. For example, the cost of receiving a call in a 'Zone 5' country such as Hong Kong or Australia is rising from 43p a minute to 80p.

By comparison, Three charges customers on contracts 99p a minute to receive calls in the US, while T-Mobile users pay £1.20.

The operator has not announced any changes in the cost of data services in its contract pricing. At the moment, there is a cap of £40 a day for data usage.

As there is no global oversight from an independent regulator, there is nothing to hinder O2 or other operators from setting high international data-roaming rates. With customers inside the EU, operators must abide with roaming regulations that came into effect on 1 July, which introduced set maximum rates per megabyte and compulsory €50 caps on data charges.

O2 told ZDNet that the price changes will not apply to its pay-as-you-go (PAYG) customers, and that no immediate increases are on the horizon.

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