Brits reduce data roaming charges by staying home

Millions of people in the UK are avoiding going abroad for their holidays this year, preferring to stay close to home and go on what are known as “staycations”. 

Tourism boards across Britain are reporting record levels of bookings and enquiries, according to reports in the media.

Visit England says there’s been a 10 per cent rise in the number of people holidaying in England in the first quarter of 2016 compared to the same period last year.

In total, that translates to about 7 million people holidaying here, which will add millions of pounds to the UK’s treasury, money that would other wise have become foreign currency and depleted the UK’s foreign exchange reserves.

Another thing that people holidaying in the UK can feel good about is that they don’t have to worry about data roaming charges, the money they would have had to pay mobile telecommunications network operators for using their phones abroad.

Even holidaying in the European Union would have resulted in the average Brit having to pay data roaming charges. Each operator has its charging structure, and is based on individual countries.

Generally speaking, the more extensive the network, the less you would have to pay in data roaming charges. But mostly it’s significantly less than 10 pence per megabyte.

Data roaming charges are capped in the EU, so there’s some comfort if not total bliss in ignorance when you go on holiday on the continent.

However, if you venture outside the EU, the costs of data roaming can be quite hefty. So, for example, you could pay £8 per megabyte in the US on the Orange network. Which means catching up on your favourite soap opera on YouTube could cost you several thousand pounds.

A helpful article on MoneySavingExpert.com suggests switching off data roaming and using WiFi where possible. It also suggests installing apps like Skype onto your phone before you set off for the other side of the world.

For those who have developed a habit of going down to the Costa del Sol or somewhere on the continent every year for their holidays, there may be a concern about what will happen as a result of Brexit.

Mobile telecommunications network operators are saying it’s too early to say what changes will occur, but nothing will be decided immediately.

The process of negotiating the UK leaving the EU will take at least two years, according to some experts. So, for two years at least, Brits could go anywhere in the EU and expect to pay a few cents per megabyte of data they send or receive.

But one nightmare scenario might be that the EU decides to impose US-style data roaming charges, so your favourite pastime of visiting Netflix.com and binge-watching every series of Eldorado ever made while sitting on a sun-lounger in Spain will cost more than seeing the wonders of the world by private jet.

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