Contract mobile phone deals and pay as you go mobile phones are two different extremes of a spectrum. These are the two buzzwords that drive the market in UK. These tiny devices (generally speaking) are spreading in the growing Asian and Latin American markets like brushfire but things in mature markets like the UK things are entirely different.
Mobile phones practiced the imagination of people since the time they came in use in mid 1980's. Since then a lot of water has flowed under the London Bridge and needless to say the technology and designs have evolved a lot. Earlier it was a privilege of the elite now it is more like the need of the masses. But still there are a host of reasons on which the sales of them depends and the largest selling point of a mobile phone is the tariff that goes along with it!
In UK, and for that matter the rest of the western world, the sales of mobile handsets are slowing down. Now to compete in such a cut throat environment the only resort for retailers is to play around with the tariff plans and make them as consumer friendly (read cheap) as possible! Also the mobile phone networks are party in this scheme of things and their decisions are bound to affect the markets. When the big boys of this league take a giant step then it is all but obvious that it will not go unnoticed.
So the news of 3 UK chopping down the international roaming price in a big manner comes as a pleasant but somewhat 'expected' surprise for the users. Currently consumers pay somewhere between £ 2 and £ 4 per minute while making a call from an international destination. 3 has announced that anyone on international roaming connected through their '3 Like Home' tariff will have to pay only 20 pence per minute to phone the UK! And hold your breath when you read this, as 3 will not charge you a single penny when you receive a call off shore!
It applies to users visiting Austria, Australia, Denmark, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy and Sweden but the rider being they have to be connected to one of 3's sister networks. But this will not be such a big issue considering 3's pan-Europe reach and appeal. This is a giant step and considering the fact that this comes right after European Union's appeal to reduce high roaming charges a glorious PR move cum business strategy for the network.
It is a fact universally acknowledged that the operators generate a lot more revenue from contract phone deals as compared to pay as you go deals, so this is another way way for them to lure the user towards contract deals. But at the end of the day, we as customers are not complaining because one thing that everyone can be sure of is that all the competitors are going to follow suit. And in this perennial aping of each other by the operators lies the profit of the user!