Ofcom wants mobile operators to introduce new rules to allow customers to set their own roaming caps in order to clamp down on so-called ‘bill shock' where users are hit with huge bills having used their mobile phones overseas.
The regulator said that at present it would want the system to be opt-in, so customers can stop themselves spending too much, but it added that it may make the system opt-out so all consumers will have protection at first.
The telecoms watchdog also said it wants operators to agree to measures that would alert consumers over how much they are spending when abroad, and may even consider making such a system compulsory in the UK, if this is not instigated across Europe.
Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at uSwitch.com, said the moves by Ofcom were a necessary step in the to curb the numbers of consumers being stung by excessive bills, particularly with the demand for mobile internet access increasing all the time.
"With the popularity of smartphones exploding over the past couple of years, the demand to access the internet wherever we are has never been greater, making the issue of data roaming charges has become a priority," he said.
"The idea of implementing financial caps which consumers can 'opt-into' also makes a lot of sense. Many consumers do fall into the habit of over-spending on mobile phones, the ability to place a cap on their monthly spend is a way for users to regain control and hopefully avoid being hit with unexpectedly high bills."
The announcement from Ofcom comes in the same week that a group of MEPs pushed for even-lower roaming costs that operators can charge customers, as the European Commission (EC) looks to make it easier for consumers and businesses to use their services abroad.
Operators have complained about this, though, with Vodafone's group chief executive arguing at Mobile World Congress that this regulatory interference was hampering mobile operators' ability to invest in new technologies such as 4G.
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