Options available for using data when travelling off-island

Phone charges

Phone charges

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An island resident and businessman has warned people against being seduced by recent roaming charge reductions.

Manx Telecom recently reduced its standard UK data roaming charges to 50 pence per megabyte and this can be reduced further, using a roaming package.

Sure has also announced new packages to reduce roaming charges and is also offering a spending limit for data services.

But John Kermode, a psychologist and family mediator said the charges could still catch out the unwary and in many cases it still paid - literally - to shop around.

Mr Kermode, who sometimes works in the UK, said he calculated what it would have cost using the Manx Telecom offer during a recent six-day trip to the UK.

‘I wasn’t able to access WiFi during the trip and used the tablet more than usual. I downloaded a couple of newspapers each day, quite a lot of emails with attachments but I didn’t use it to download any video or music.

‘On my tablet I used 720 mgeabytes in six days.

‘If I had taken up the Manx Telecom offer the cost of that would have been £182.99, which is a pretty impressive saving: if I had just continued to use my Manx Telecom tablet SIM, it would have been a whopping £360.’

However, Mr Kermode said he was able to effect an even greater saving by virtue of some judicious shopping around.

‘Rather than using my Manx Telecom data SIM, I got a free SIM using a Which recommended provider on the O2 network. I bought one gig of data for £7.50, without a contract or any up front or recurring charges.

‘Suddenly the £182.99 offer didn’t look quite so good after all.’

But Manx Telecom’s mobile product manager, Mervyn Harvey, said the best strategy for a customer who could not access Wi Fi services was to use a roaming package to reduce costs and to switch off background data to reduce the amount of data consumed.

‘We also appreciate customers have a choice to purchase services from a local operator when roaming,’ he said.

‘On May 1 we reduced our standard roaming data rate in the UK from £1.50 per MB to just 50p per MB which provides customers with significantly more value. 50p per MB is one third of the price charged for the same service by the alternative local mobile operator. It is also very similar to the rate charged by UK operators when their customers travel to the Isle of Man and other destinations and could be reduced further still to 25p per MB with the addition of a bolt-on,’ he said.

He added MT mobile customers received calls free when in the UK, Ireland or Channel Islands.

Communications Commission chairman Juan Watterson said as the island is not part of the EU, Manx Telecom cannot benefit from the legislation that requires UK operators to offer more competitive rates.

‘We believe the recent developments by MT and Sure do represent a good first step and we expect this progress to continue,’ he said.

‘In the meantime there are still alternative measures consumers can take to help control and reduce roaming rates. The Commission recently published a press release encouraging consumers to take these measures, such as turning off data and using Wi-Fi to reduce roaming charges.’

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