Allirajah Subaskaran founded Lyca Mobile with the belief that people should always be able to connect seamlessly with their family and friends across all boundaries. The importance of this guiding principle has once again come to the fore with the reintroduction of EU roaming charges for UK mobile customers and its serious adverse impact in the context of the current cost of living crisis.

The close of 2022 marked two and a half years of financial struggles for many. The lingering economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent layoffs – combined with the conflict in Ukraine – triggered a cost of living crisis that has proved a bitter pill for many.

Cost-conscious customers are increasingly prioritising value for money, faced with surging rises in the cost of everyday items. Figures published by the Office for National Statistics suggest that inflation hit 10.1% for the 12 months to September 2022, with prices continuing to rise across the board. In addition to rising prices, Brits have also suffered another unwelcome blow, with many network providers reintroducing roaming fees for UK citizens travelling in the EU.

A recent report commissioned by Lyca Mobile, the largest mobile virtual network operator in the world, reveals that roaming fees are a significant concern for many UK mobile users, prompting many consumers to vote with their feet by abandoning their current service provider in favour of a better deal.

44% of the survey participants agreed that the return of roaming charges had made them question whether they should switch providers. More than a third said that free roaming tariffs offered by providers outside of the ‘Big Four’ UK operators could prove sufficient to persuade them to switch.

The issue is compounded by widespread confusion surrounding roaming charges, with 51% of mobile contract customers saying that they did not know whether their provider had reintroduced roaming fees or not. Just 39% of UK mobile contract customers said they felt confident that they understood how much they will pay for roaming in the EU.

With people across the United Kingdom facing rising inflation and skyrocketing energy bills, consumers up and down the country are seeking ways to reduce household costs as much as possible. 65% of the Lyca Mobile survey respondents cited the cost of living crisis as a factor in reconsidering their mobile phone contract. Given that roaming charges could easily equate to an additional £100 on the cost of a fortnight’s holiday for a family of four in the EU, the reintroduction of roaming charges could place an unnecessary financial strain on UK holidaymakers.

Lyca Mobile is one of the only mobile operatorsin the UK to avoid reintroduction of roaming charges following the country’s exit from the European Union. In doing so, the company hopes to help bring costs down for customers across the country, many of whom are already reeling from the current cost of living crisis.

Allirajah Subashkaran, chairman of Lyca Mobile, indicated that – with rising inflation and soaring bills – roaming charges are another blow to people looking forward to a much deserved break abroad. He pointed out that not reintroducing roaming charges enabled the company to maintain attractive price points for customers. From its heritage as a low-cost international calling network, Lyca Mobile recognises the importance of enabling people to connect with friends and family irrespective of geographical location. Mr Subaskaran said that this should not be the preserve of the few, which is why the company is proud to deliver great value offers, including inclusive roaming in the EU.

Escalating roaming charges and other costs are already having a tangible impact on how UK holidaymakers plan to use their mobile devices in the EU. In order to bring down costs, consumers are increasingly seeking to limit the amount of data they use whilst on holiday, with more than 43% of poll participants revealing that they plan to rely solely on WiFi and 11% planning to go-off grid completely to avoid charges.

Some consumers plan to go even further, with 19% of those polled considering purchasing local SIM cards to avoid roaming charges while they are abroad. For many consumers, this marks a significant change in behaviour, with 75% admitting that they have never purchased local SIM cards before.

Further research by Lyca Mobile revealed that 73% of UK mobile users were considering switching providers in order to get better valueelsewhere. The growing appetite amongst contract customers to make the switch is generating huge market opportunities for alternative providers.

65% of Vodafone, EE, Three and O2 customers said that the cost of living crisis was making them reconsider their mobile phone contracts. While 64% of contract customers admitted feeling a sense of loyalty towards their mobile provider, 41% agreed that they were overpaying for their current tariff, with 48% saying they would actively seek a new mobile provider in the interest of lowering costs. Although 35% of poll participants said they would stay with their current provider because it was too much hassle to switch, industry experts predict that this loyalty could diminish in time as prices continue to soar, sparking changes in customer priorities.

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Vineet Maheshwari is a passionate blogger and relationship oriented digital marketing consultant with over 10 years of experience in SEO, PPC management, web analytics, domain investing, affiliate marketing and digital strategy. He has helped high tech brands connect with customers in an engaging manner, thereby ensuring that high quality leads are generated over time.