UK network operator 3 claims it is moving to end to the "international roaming rip-off" with the launch of a new initiative - 3 Like Home ­­- that allows customers travelling abroad to use their existing voice call allowances, text bundles and other services as if they were in the UK, for no extra charge.

From today, 3 customers visiting countries in which 3 operates sister networks - including Ireland, Italy, Austria, Australia, Hong Kong, Sweden and Denmark - can use their mobiles on those Hutchison-owned networks to avoid roaming charges for regular calls and other services - including surfing the internet and watching mobile TV.

In addition, customers roaming on foreign 3 networks will not be charged to receive calls, as is usually the case when using a mobile phone abroad. All 3 users will automatically enjoy the 3 Like Home benefits while roaming on 3 sister networks with no subscription required.

The 3 Like Home benefits are applicable for users roaming on 3 networks only in the countries listed above - if they roam on other networks in those countries, additional roaming charges will apply.

The 3 Like Home benefits for travellers abroad include:

  • No charges for receiving calls
  • Calls made to the UK are used from bundles of inclusive minutes first. If these are used up calls to the UK will be charged at a flat rate of 20p per minute,
  • All SMS and MMS will be charged as if the customer is in the UK, with messages sent to the treated as part of domestic bundles.
  • All data services charged at the same rate as data in the UK, whether for unlimited data usage customers or pay as you use data.
  • Video calls to the UK will be treated as if in the UK, with bundled call allowances used first.
  • International calls will be charged as if the user was calling from the UK.

Commenting on the new pricing policy, Christian Salbaing, managing director of European telecommunications at 3 Group, said: "The launch of the '3 Like Home' scheme will significantly benefit our customers as they travel between the 3 Group's networks. It underlines our commitment to fair treatment and reasonable pricing for all our customers.

"While 3 customers will continue to face higher charges if they roam onto a non-3 network, this is because of the high wholesale charges required by many of 3's roaming partners. We hope the European Commission will be successful in significantly reducing these wholesale charges, which will allow price reductions for customers roaming between different operators within Europe." Phil Lattimore