To send OR receive a call: 55p/min
To send an SMS: 40p/message
To send an MMS: 20p/message (yes, I went ! too... Read on below for more)
Data usage is £7.50/Mb, so turn off your OTA Exchange Server synchronisation
I asked how much of the 55p/min TM takes from the call charges, to which the CSR said (paraphrasing), "we don't really take anything from the 55p/min charge - that's all given to the roaming provider due to the reciprocal service agreements. TM doesn't really believe that charging for a service they are not providing is a very good thing to do, hence the lower charges."
By contrast, when I was in Germany on O2 it was about 65p/min to make a call, 45p/min to receive - and that was with their International Traveller discount applied. You can get a similar addon with TM, for £2.50 per calendar month, which lowers the charges for receiving calls to about 25p/min, but IIRC if you are the originator of a call it'll still cost you the same. Ring TM CS for more advice on that, because I'm sure it's dependent on your tariff.
You can also prepay for minutes or texts before you head abroad, which the CSR informed me would work out more cost effective than just PAYG roaming, but again I guess the cost-effectiveness of that depends on how much you'll be using your phone abroad.
Now, about MMSes being cheaper than SMSes... Apparently, this is due to MMS prices being dictated by an EU Directive which states that they can only cost xyz amount - which works out great for us consumers! I also asked about whether there'd be any data charges incurred if I sent an MMS - with or without a picture - and the CSR responded by saying that there wouldn't be given that the GPRS usage barely even registers in the grander scheme of things, and as there's a 32kb per message cap on the size if you attempt to send a picture larger than that you just get billed 20p per every 32kb of data used. So, for a great money-saving tip: send MMSes to people instead of SMSes, you can send a ridiculous amount of text - something like 1.5 A4 pages worth! - for 20p instead of 160 letter SMSes for 40p, and you won't (shouldn't!) get charged for data usage even if you're roaming.
AFAIK, there's no data charges for receiving either SMSes or MMSes, which would tally with past roaming experience.
As we began chatting at that point, I asked him a few more questions about 3G and suchlike - there's no operator in France which really provides a decent 3G service yet, however Orange France (formerly France Telecom) is rolling out 3G in metropolitan areas and eventually TM hopes to be able to provide 3G Europe-wide with its roaming carriers. Another EU Directive is also being issued around April which will be lowering the cost of calls again - to somewhere like 33p/min - and ALSO capping the per-megabyte charges for data usage, but the CSR said that nobody really knows what that's going to be set at yet because the EU hasn't issued any information about that. Expect lower prices, though, and a more standardised cost framework for charges. I did ask whether data usage would fall under inclusive usages which people like myself have on their accounts (Web 'n Walk etc), but he was a little vague about that - so I guess that data usage isn't going to fall under inclusive allowances any time soon.
TM also hopes to be able to offer a UK-wide 3G service within the next 12 months or so, with Hi-D (HSDPA and any other 3.5/4G services, I guess) becoming widespread within the next 12-18 months, according to what the CSR said. I commented that TM seemed to have their 3G service up and running a lot faster than any of the other operators, and the main reason for this is twofold:
- TM had based their takeup projections on the initial GPRS rollout, which started in London and then made its way throughout the country. The estimate for 3G handsets was that about 100,000 of them would be imported and retailed. However, 2.5 million 3G handsets were imported and sold, which surprised TM somewhat - and was a factor in them expediting their rollout of 3G networks in metropolitan areas.
- The way in which TM has been rolling out their 3G network differs from past rollouts - they gauged the much higher popularity of 3G usage and handsets (much faster than the GPRS takeup, which was a slow rollout and slow takeup) and subsequently decided to set up each rollout in each metropolitan area (Aberdeen, Edinburgh, London, Birmingham, Manchester etc) as a separate project - but each project communicated with all the others. So, if a problem developed in one of the rollouts, and it was determined to be a problem common to all of the individual rollouts, the problem could be solved and then the solution proactively applied to all the other projects. This results in a much more rapid rollout of TM's 3G networks, and is the other primary reason for why TM has beaten Vodafone and Orange thus far with their implementation and activation of 3G services across the UK.