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When UK travelers head overseas with their mobile devices in tow, the shadow of data roaming bill shock looms large. This was illustrated by a piece of March 2015 research from TNS for post-transactional marketing firm Webloyalty. It found that smartphone- or tablet-toting UK travelers were most likely to get online when overseas via free Wi-Fi—54% at the accommodation and 36% at other public locations.
Relying on mobile data when abroad is much less common—and for good reason. In Europe, for example, a pledge by the European Parliament to end roaming charges in Europe by the end of 2015 was shelved after mobile operators in member countries successfully lobbied against such action. And while some UK operators now offer fairly attractive data roaming packages, they are often limited.
If home-based habits are anything to go by, though, operators might want to think again. November 2014 research from UK mobile network operator EE found that customers on its 4G network were far more likely to spend their daily internet time on their mobile network—80% of respondents claimed to spend more than an hour online via this type of connection daily. Public Wi-Fi, on the other hand, was much less popular, with only 22% claiming to spend more than an hour connecting this way.
While mobile network access is becoming more and more popular to the detriment of public Wi-Fi in the UK, when abroad, Brits may have to revert to Wi-Fi for some time longer.
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