EXCL Labour fury after MoD paid £64,000 for internet use on ONE mobile phone
The Ministry of Defence spent more than £60,000 on mobile internet use for a single phone last year, PoliticsHome can reveal.
The bill was included in a list of eye-watering figures the department paid out for personnel to stay in touch while undertaking operations and training around the world.
Labour branded the figures “astronomically high” and urged Defence Secretary Michael Fallon to get the costs “under control”.
The biggest bill for data roaming on a single MoD phone number in 2016/17 was £64,400, according to figures obtained by PoliticsHome through Freedom of Information.
That was followed by a bill for £54,000 and another for £41,000.
The average salary for a soldier in the British Army is just over £24,000 a year.
In total, the top ten biggest data roaming bills for single phone numbers amounted to £324,400 in 2016/17, compared with £138,200 the year before.
Meanwhile, the top ten biggest bills for call and texts on individual numbers was £54,400 last year, compared with £34,400 in the previous one.
In total the MoD spent £1.1m on mobile internet and £831,800 in calls and texts last year, compared with £747,700 and £958,000 the year before.
The MoD said the rise in costs was down to the increasing use of apps on smartphones and tablets, as well as changes in working patterns.
The bills are only for the MoD’s main phone contract - so if every phone used across the department was included the figures would be even higher.
Shadow Defence Secretary Nia Griffith told PoliticsHome: “These MoD data roaming bills are astronomically high and the increase from last year is astounding.
“There has clearly been no effort by the department to get these costs under control.”
She added: “The Defence Secretary often talks of efficiency savings when he means cuts; this is an example of where a change in policy really could lead to efficiency savings.
“His department must look into this matter at the earliest opportunity.”
The MoD said: “Due to the nature of military operations and exercises, the locations we operate from frequently lack fixed communications which necessitates the use of secure mobile broadband facilities.
“Roaming mobile data allows operational teams to send and receive data securely and ensure that operations and exercises are successfully executed.”
It added: “The MoD continuously monitors both use and requirement, providing the most cost effective solution to any approved task whilst working within the constraints of the MoD mobile telephony contract.
“Any perceived high costs associated with the use of Mobile Telephony (Voice and Data) by MOD deployed assets are measured against the cost of providing an alternative global communication solution.”