British fans in Qatar for the World Cup could spend almost £1,000 a week on mobile phone roaming charges
- Britons arriving in Qatar could be charged up to £969 in mobile roaming charges
- Some providers impose a worldwide cap on data roaming, but there is no cap on texts or calls to most networks, which Brits might be caught off guard.
- Only Vodafone includes data, calls and texts in its standard international package
British footballers heading to Qatar to face the World Cup spent nearly £1,000 a week on mobile phone roaming charges.
Thousands of Britons have arrived in the Gulf state for the tournament and could be handed a hefty bill of £969 if they use phones abroad, as Qatar has one of the largest roaming in the world.
Only Vodafone includes data, calls and texts in its international bundle, meaning they and other UK network providers could be at risk of eyewatering mobile bills during their stay, according to new research from USwitch.com.
And while most providers impose a £45 worldwide cap on data roaming – introduced by the UK government to help travelers avoid huge bills – there is no cap on texts or calls to most networks. This would mean that many Britons could be arrested for serious crimes.
The worst hit will be customers of network provider iD Mobile with data charges starting at £9.60 per MB. The network also has the highest rates for overseas calls and texts to Qatar, with phone calls to the UK set at £6 per minute and any text market at £1.20.
This means that a British football fan using 1GB of data, making 20 minutes of calls and sending ten texts a day could end up with a bill of £969 per week of travel.
Thousands of Britons arrived in the Gulf state for the tournament and could be handed a hefty bill of £969 if they used their phones abroad, as Qatar has among the highest roaming fees in the world.
Only Vodafone includes data, calls and texts in its international bundle, meaning they and other UK mobile network providers could be at risk of peaking their mobile bills during their stay, according to new research by USwitch.com (image image)
£80?! Fans are targeted by torch-twisted ‘drink deals’ in Qatari hotels during the World Cup
Football fans as Qatar bid for the World Cup face paying up to £80 per liter as part of extortionate ‘drink deals’ on offer in the typically teetotal Muslim kingdom.
Champion’s bar at the Marriott Hotel in Doha, which markets itself as the city’s best sports bar, is selling tickets to the final show for £240 including food and three drinks, with each beer or glass of wine selling for up to £80.
Meanwhile, other hoteliers in Qatar – one of the few places where drinking is allowed due to strict Sharia laws – are halting or reducing the price of their usual promotions with supporters against prices of 11 pounds or more.
Even those hoping to watch the games inside the World Cup zones – where drinking is only allowed between certain periods – face up to paying £7 for a beer.
After all, the Qatari peninsula is about 113 miles long, about the same distance from London to Bristol — and it has a population of just 300,000 expats and migrant workers.
It is feared that the facilities on the peninsula will simply be overwhelmed by the number of professional athletes to come, which will probably exceed 1 million.
It is those fears that have led some hotels in Qatar – the Four Seasons, the Kempinski, and the W Hotel – to raise the prices of their regular drink deals.
The Four Seasons is running its 42-hour two-hour all-you-can-eat promotion, and ramping up the cost of its brunches from £130 to £306, says The Sun.
Kempinski has stopped happy hours when it usually charges £8.40 for a beer, while fans are expected to cough up £11.
And the W Hotel will serve its last brunch at Deep 108 on Friday before the first game of the tournament next weekend.
One Four Seasons employee said: “We don’t want to put up with it if thousands of fans try to take advantage of our happy hours so we have to stop them.”
Meanwhile, Virgin Mobile customers will be subject to roaming data charges of £5. They also charge five pounds per minute for a full call to the UK and each letter costs £0.60.
Over a week, Virgin Media customers can be charged £788 for using 1GB of data, making twenty minutes of calls and sending ten texts to Qatar.
Of the four largest UK providers, O2 is the most expensive with a data roaming cost of £7.20 per MB. Meanwhile, Three customers were charged £6 per MB.
EE customers can only roam on networks in Qatar by purchasing a Daily Roaming Data Pass, which gives 150MB of mobile data for £6.85.
Vodafone is by far the cheapest UK network provider for Brits traveling to Qatar. The provider allows customers to use their monthly household allowance of calls, texts and data for £6 a day.
This means that over a week, Vodafone customers could spend just £42 using their phone abroad.
While Qatar offers free Wi-fi in many public areas, UK visitors wishing to avoid the risk of mobile charges should consider using a local network, experts warn.
The Hayya card, a form of recognition for overseas fans at the World Cup, will allow Brits to get a free prepaid SIM that will be valid for three days.
Catherine Hiley, mobile expert at Uswitch.com, said: ‘Thousands of Brits heading to Qatar could find themselves up against an unnecessary penalty if they don’t take care to avoid huge mobile phone charges in the Gulf state.
“Before you go to the tournament, make sure you know what to charge your network for while you’re there for calls, data and texts.”
He added: ‘With most providers in the Middle East not including roaming in their packages, charges for mobile data can be severe.
‘Then it’s worth turning to roam on your smartphone during your stay.’
Hiley continued: ‘Download any World Cups apps or maps before you leave the UK, as well as any films, shows and music you want while you’re there, so you don’t need to find a secure Wi-Fi connection in Qatar. .
‘If you want to get in touch back home, it’s better to use a messaging app when you’re online than paying expensive call costs.
And, if you are attending the World Cup with friends, consider setting up a group on a service like WhatsApp.
‘This will give you an easy way to keep quiet without having to watch texts.’