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Regulatory/Politics

Eurobites: UK telcos slammed over post-Brexit roaming confusion

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: WIOCC boosted by Google's Equiano landing in South Africa; PWC fined over sloppy BT audit; CityFibre digs Rochdale.

  • An influential UK consumer rights organization is calling on UK communications regulator Ofcom to reintroduce formal, compulsory protections for Brits who use their mobile phones within the European Union, claiming that the falling away of such rights following Brexit has led to widespread confusion and the return of post-vacation bill shock. At the end of June 2022, networks Vodafone, Three, Sky Mobile, EE and Voxi all reintroduced roaming charges of £2 (US$2.42) per "day" to use a UK data allowance when travelling in the EU/EEA, but according to Money Saving Expert, the networks are "not always upfront" about how they define this daily charge, with one defining a day's use as anything up to 11.59 p.m. UK time the same day, meaning that a customer could be charged the full daily rate for just a few minutes' use. Martin Lewis, founder of Money Saving Expert, said: "I've no faith in mobile firms to self-regulate. When we left the EU, they promised not to reintroduce European roaming charges… yet most of the big networks have broken that promise. And it's time too, to define time … we recommend all providers must define a roaming 'day' as a 24-hour period from first use, clearly explain that in the arrival text, and alert customers at least an hour before the daily charges end."

    (Source: Andrey Kuzmin/Alamy Stock Photo)
    (Source: Andrey Kuzmin/Alamy Stock Photo)

  • African connectivity company WIOCC says the arrival in South Africa of Google's 144Tbit/s Equiano cable will boost its wholesale offering there. WIOCC's Equiano capacity will be extended into a new Open Access Data Centres facility currently undergoing fit-out in Rondebosch, Cape Town, where its customers can interconnect with terrestrial infrastructure providers, cloud networks and partners.

  • Accounting giant PwC has been fined nearly £1.8 million ($2.17 million) for its less-than-forensic audit of BT's accounts in 2017 following the discovery of a £500 million ($605 million) accounting fraud at BT's Italian unit. As the Guardian reports, the UK's Financial Reporting Council criticized PwC as failing to act with the "requisite professional scepticism" on the accounts, which had to be adjusted by £513 million ($621 million) because of the Italian shenanigans. (See Eurobites: BT Dumps PwC in Wake of Italian Scandal and Dodgy Italian Job Savages BT Earnings, Share Price Tanks.)

  • The residents of Rochdale, a town near Manchester in northwest England, can expect to have their peace disturbed by the sound of trench-digging as CityFibre begins its £30 million ($36 million) full-fiber rollout there. The actual work has been contracted out to Network Plus, with town-wide completion scheduled for 2024. Internet service providers Zen, Vodafone and TalkTalk will initially be riding on the network, with others expected to join in due course.

  • More than half of British parents reckon they wouldn't be able to survive in the online world if they were a child today, according to new research commissioned by BT-owned EE. And, more worryingly, 55% of those oldies surveyed admit that if their child saw something unsuitable online they wouldn't know how to stop them seeing it again. The research has been carried out to support the launch of PhoneSmart Licence, an online course from EE that aims to teach children how to stay safe and be kind online.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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