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Orange is increasing its rates for the majority of roaming destinations at the end of August, even as the proposed Europe-wide capping of roaming charges looks set to become law.

In what it describes as a "readjustment", Orange is increasing 16 of its worldwide prices, in one case (calling within the Middle East) doubling the rate.

In fact, the only people to gain from this "realignment" of pricing are those calling the UK from North America or Asia, who will see prices cut by five pence and 10 pence respectively, though that must be off-set by the 30 pence per minute increase when calling in-country within either of those zones.

But Orange reckons 60 per cent of its roaming customers stay within the Orange Business Zone: an area encompassing most of mainland Europe and surrounding countries, where prices aren't changing.

In the rest of Europe, incorporating Albania, Croatia, Israel and Turkey to name a few, prices have gone up considerably. You'll pay five pence more to receive a call (now costing you 50p a minute), and calling in-country will set you back an additional 30p a minute (up from 45 to 75 pence).

Anyone roaming to the Middle East or the USA might want to take a careful look at the new rates, which should arrive through the post any day now (Orange is obliged to provide a 30 day warning of changes).

The mobile operator is also moving a few countries around - South Africa migrates from the Middle East to Asia Pacific, for example. Interestingly, "Other Europe" includes Yugoslavia, which might come as a surprise to the people of Serbia and Montenegro.

Orange's reshuffle also sees the introduction of a Business Frequent Traveller rate, which costs £5 a month and offers discounts of "up to 50 per cent" on roaming calls. Don't expect that 50 per cent figure to be widespread: calls received within the Orange Business Zone will get a 40 per cent discount, while phoning home only gets 24 per cent off; the other discounts vary widely.

The addition of the Business Frequent Traveller just makes comparing prices all the more difficult, and anyone who can actually work out which is the most effective tariff for them deserves some sort of award.

Anyone hoping these changes will allow them to renege on their contract should know that Orange considers roaming an "additional service", and thus not covered by the terms and conditions that allow withdrawal in cases of price increases. ®

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