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Networks sign government deal to ditch roaming, except O2

The Government has signed a deal with phone networks to end roaming charges, protect stolen phones and cut down on price hikes.

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
Expertise Films, TV, Movies, Television, Technology
Richard Trenholm
2 min read
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The Government has signed a deal with phone networks to end roaming charges, protect stolen phones and cut down on unexpected price hikes. BT, Sky, TalkTalk, EE, Three, Virgin Media and Vodafone have added their signatures to an agreement to ditch data roaming charges by 2016 -- but not O2.

"An end to roaming would be a huge boost for mobile users jetting off abroad and worried about bills," says mobile industry expert Ernest Doku of uSwitch, but notes that, "Unfortunately, networks have committed only to helping end roaming -- as opposed to making an outright promise -- which gives them some wriggle room."

Culture Secretary Maria Miller also announced a cap on the amount mobile networks can charge you if thieves run up a giant bill after stealing your phone, giving you the same protection as for fraudulent use of a stolen credit card.

From next spring, your network can charge you no more than £50 for dodgy use of your phone made by a tea leaf after they half-inch your dog and bone.

The government is looking to sort out the mobile industry to avoid regulation from the EU. Other measures announced today include a crackdown on price increases in the middle of your contract. 

O2 says no2  

"The fact the government has followed the example of Labour’s eight-point plan and recognised this potentially damaging part of the sector is welcome," adds Ernest Doku. "However, there are gaps in the culture secretary’s plan that need to be addressed, with one big mobile operator, O2, not playing ball at the moment."

The oxygenated network wants to get the details straight before committing: "One area of the government's announcement relates to Ofcom's recently published guidance on 'price rises in fixed term contracts'" says O2. "We need clarity on what the guidance means for us and our customers before we can sign up to all the commitments referred to by government, and we have been unable to obtain such clarity from the government or Ofcom at the time of this publication.”

Is it fair to pay more for calls when overseas, or should the networks drop roaming? What annoys you about your network? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.