The European Union has warned UK mobile users that they are often being overcharged for calls made while overseas.
Roaming costs vary from 30p to £3.50 per minute among EU mobile operators and UK users pay some of the highest rates, typically around 85p per minute to receive a call.
The EU will launch a website in the autumn to allow consumers to compare pricing among operators. It hopes that this transparency will lead to a decline in prices among those charging the highest rates.
The site is being supported by telecoms regulators in each EU country.
This offers overseas users calls priced at 75p for the for the first minute, and subsequent minutes at normal UK rates. The operator pointed out that users of monthly tariffs with inclusive minutes may therefore only pay 75p for an overseas call.
However, not all users are concerned about roaming prices. Greg Carlow, managing director at IT reseller Repton, said: "I have travelled in France recently and to be honest I am grateful for the service. I expect a bit of an uplift in cost in return for the availability."
Dave Springhall, chief technology officer at MMS firm Yospace, maintained that it is not all down to the operators.
"Most users do not understand the tariffs but, while it is easy to portray the operators as fat cats, several factors determine the pricing as in several countries the national regulator holds the power," he said.
"What we do need is a unified effort by UK operators to be more transparent. It is possible for the call cost to be shown on the display of the mobile for example."
Analysts point out that savings can be made by using specialised roaming services providers that re-route calls through local numbers to reduce costs.
Martin Gutberlet, research director at Gartner, told vnunet.com: "We hear this from the EU every year around holiday time. It talks about applying pressure, but I would like to see it.
"The truth is that the operators are realising that costs are a disincentive so they are looking at ways of making it cheaper.
"Vodafone is the first with the Passport idea but you have to watch out because it only applies to a Vodafone network in a foreign country. That normally only happens about 70 per cent of the time."
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