Half of UK organisations lose business due to cost of roaming

Fear of the cost of roaming has pushed half of UK organisations to lose business through not staying in touch with colleagues or clients when abroad, a survey has revealed.

The survey, carried out by Vanson Bourne for Truphone, uncovers that over two thirds (69%) of UK business travellers feel roaming charges are not affordable, with one in three (32%) turning off their data connection entirely as a result. Half (48%) admitted to checking email less when abroad to reduce costs.

With the high roaming costs charged by big mobile network operators threatening the competitiveness of UK businesses, the survey highlights a need for alternative solutions.

The rapid increase in the use of mobile email and internet means that mobile data bills are soaring. Data usage is set to rocket over the next few years, growing almost 40-fold from 90.8million Gigabytes in 2009 to 3.6 billion Gigabytes by 2014, according to the Cisco Visual Networking Index Mobile 2010.

With the average cost of non-bundled data for UK travellers in the US and Australia ranging from £3 to £7.50 per MB, the problems faced by British businesses will only increase unless an alternative solution that avoids these charges is implemented, Truphone warned.

The survey reveals business travellers are already struggling to strike a balance between the requirement to reduce costs and the need to stay connected to customers 24/7, with over two thirds (68%) under pressure to use their mobile phone less when abroad.

Half (48%) admit checking email and browsing the internet less when abroad than they would at home to reduce costs, while 70% make fewer or shorter phone calls.

One in five (19%) tie themselves to landlines to make calls, and 10% swap to a local SIM to avoid high charges, leading to juggling phones and multiple voicemail accounts.

The research also shows that despite the cost of mobile data, one in five (21%) IT decision makers don’t even know the cost of data roaming.

“The charges levied by the big operators are prohibitive, and businesses are losing out as a result. Using your mobile less when abroad is not good for business,” said Geraldine Wilson, CEO of Truphone. “Someone had to provide a solution to this. With our Truphone Local Anywhere service, we want to take the pain out of communicating while you are travelling abroad whether you are making or receiving high call volumes, or using the internet.”

Nearly three quarters (73%) of business travellers surveyed use mobile email to stay in touch when travelling on business. The latest Communications Market Report from Ofcom shows that mobile data usage rose by 240% between 2007 and 2009. Usage will only increase in the future with 93% of business travellers predicting more frequent use of mobile internet, according to the Truphone survey.

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