For the second time in so many weeks I've been over in the UK recently and noticed that I am severely restricted in which networks I can select. Not that I can't chose between several networks but in all except one I only got voice service while data seems to have been turned off by my home network operator (read: GPRS service is not allowed). That's quite strange as I haven't seen this anymore since GPRS started many years ago and it was an issue of roaming agreements and links not having been in place.
So what could be the reason this time around? Perhaps, and it's just a guess, this has got something to do with data roaming charges having come down quite a bit in recent years in the EU and network operators who won't give each other reasonable roaming T&Cs now just disable data roaming to prevent making a loss!? After all, the theoretical upper limit in GPRS roaming wholesale prices is still a ridiculous 80 euro cents per megabyte. If you are offering something like to 200 MB roaming data for 10 or 15 Euros to your customer, roaming partners insisting on anything near the wholesale limit are clearly unacceptable.
Let's hope this is only a temporary situation as especially in the UK, with their patchy networks, it's a good thing to be able to use different networks.