The cost of doing business over the mobile Internet in Europe has just gotten cheaper. This follows the new rules that went into effect Monday, which will further allow customers to set a maximum monthly cost with their networks by July 1. The networks in turn will have to send warnings to customers who use up to 80 percent of their allotment. Go over the limit, and users will be cut off. Likewise, those not setting a maximum cost will have it default to 50 euros (or roughly $68) per month.
This comes after complaints in Europe by users of extremely high mobile data usage, as well as roaming, and the European Commission pushed for the networks to slash the roaming charges. The result has been a 35 percent decrease in the average mobile phone bill. For some, this has been quite substantial. News outlets have called out a few cases, such as the British student who studied abroad and was charged 9,000 euros for a month’s service, and worse the German traveler who opted to watch TV on his handset and came home to a 46,000 euro bill! Talk about pay-per-view!
For business travelers heading across the pond this should mean cheaper calls and better rates for sending and receiving data. As one who has used a mobile quite a bit overseas, I’ve noticed that it is important to ask the carriers in advance as to what is covered and to read the bills carefully after returning home. My experience was that you should expect to pay more than expected, even if opting for so-called “unlimited;” and further plan on seeing charges for a billing cycle or two. Moving forward we can hope that these new regulations will streamline the process, especially for those of us who can’t keep the handset in our pockets.
Mobile Delivers the News
As a frequent business traveler keeping up with the news has always been difficult. Papers in strange cities are just that… strange. And while on the go it is hard to watch TV. More and more I’m personally reaching for my smartphone when I have a minute to kill, not just to read e-mail or check in with my editors, but to read the news. And it turns out I’m not alone.
According to a new report from the Pew Research Center, more than a quarter of Americans now reach for their handsets to get the news. The study found that 26 percent of Americans get their news from their phones, which is a really surprising number. The other surprising part of this study is that Pew doesn’t actually have comparable data from a few years ago. In other words, we’re treading down new territory, but that number is likely to rise.
The study did find that of the 37 percent of mobile phone users who use the Internet on their handsets, weather was the key topic, with 72 percent looking for weather reports. The next highest topic was current events, which came in second at 68 percent. I’m not entirely clear on what counts as current events, but it sounds like it could be anything from politics to entertainment to tragic events such as the earthquake in Chile.
Mobile Travel App of the Week: Handsets Open Doors
A mobile handset can open doors in many ways, and I mean this in a metaphorical way of course, such as making a call to a new business contact or sending e-mail to a potential client. But OpenWays sees that smartphones can literally open doors as well. The travel technology firm has introduced a new system that sends a digitally encrypted audio beep to a door locking mechanism from a smartphone.