Monday, February 21, 2011

Europe - EC has surveyed citizens on their use of roaming and attitudes to charges

[ec] Mobile phones are increasingly becoming not only the most important but also the only means of voice telephony for Europeans. 87% of respondents have a mobile phone compared to 80% in 2006 while 26% now use it exclusively in comparison to 20% in 2006.

Consequently, the group of potential users of roaming services is also constantly growing, both in terms of size and heterogeneity. The differences in mobile phone penetration between countries are shrinking and even the oldest age group, which showed significantly lower levels of mobile phone usage in 2006, are quickly catching up with their younger counterparts, with 71% now having a mobile phone compared to 57% in 2006.

Significantly fewer Europeans report having travelled in the EU in this present
survey than in 2006. This is undoubtedly a consequence of the economic downturn. In
2010, 48% of mobile phone users say they have travelled within last 4-5 years and 28%
have travelled both prior to and since the Roaming Regulation.

The results do not show significant evolutions in the proportion of respondents using different types of services, with the exception of Internet-related services, which seem to be used more now than in 2006. European mobile phone users continue to favour voice calls (55%) and text message services (52%) while abroad with 10% making use of Internet related services. The increased usage of roaming internet-related services reflects the recent market uptake of mobile data services.

While overall the proportion of roaming service users has remained stable since 2006, a higher proportion of frequent travellers are now using their mobile phones while abroad, possibly because they have first-hand experience of the recent price decreases.

Furthermore, the respondents are using roaming services to a greater extent
than in 2006. Significant increases can be observed in the frequency of making
(32%) and receiving voice calls (31%) and in particular of sending text
messages (43%) since 2006. Young people in particular are significantly more likely
to use these roaming services now than in 2006.

However, an overwhelming 72% of mobile users continue to limit their mobile voice calls while abroad because they are concerned about the costs. It is also implied that some respondents substitute their voice calls by text messages and Internet-related services while abroad, i.e. they change their user pattern in terms of the type of services they use. Young respondents are particularly prone to cut down their voice calls while travelling. Among the 10% of mobile users who reported currently using data roaming services while abroad, the general tendency appears to be that the price of using data services is not regarded as fair.

The perceived excessive roaming costs still appear to discourage Europeans of using roaming services, even if a majority of mobile phone users agrees that these costs have decreased. Among frequent travellers, 61% are aware of the positive price developments that have occurred over the last four years.

Awareness of lower roaming prices is obviously strongly linked to first-hand experiences during the period of change: those who travel frequently and use any of the roaming services are significantly more likely to believe that costs have fallen than those who have not travelled both prior to and since the Regulation and those who avoid using their mobile phone while abroad. The oldest age group in particular tends to be less knowledgeable about recent developments.

SPECIAL EUROBAROMETER 356 - Roaming in 2010

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