EU mobile roaming charges ending this summer
Exciting news from the EU. Yes, you read that right. A press release from the European Union has confirmed the end of mobile phone roaming charges for travellers in the EU from 15 June 2017.
The key part says:
“As of 15 June 2017, you will be able to use your mobile device when travelling in the EU, paying the same prices as at home, i.e. to roam like at home, subject to operators’ fair use policies. For instance, if you pay for a monthly package of minutes, SMS and data in your country, any voice call, SMS and data session you make while travelling abroad in the EU will be deducted from that volume as if you were at home, with no extra charges.”
This is long overdue, especially given that the amount of data roaming between 2008 and 2015 multiplied by more than 100.
That’s the good news. The less good news is to do with Brexit. (You didn’t expect to be able to read something that didn’t mention Brexit at least once did you?)
The end of roaming charges for UK users will only apply until we leave the EU in 2019. After that, it will be up to the UK government to agree a new deal over roaming charges with the rest of the EU. How high up that will be on the list of things to agree with the EU remains to be seen. If no deal is in place when we leave, UK mobile users could see the return of extortionate roaming charges and we’ll be back to square one.
One operator trying to get ahead of the game on roaming charges is Vodafone. It has just announced Roam-free and Roam-further deals. Its Roam-free regions include countries outside the EU, including Switzerland, the Channel Islands and Turkey. Its Roam-further deal allows customers to pay £5 a day for unlimited use of their mobiles in 60 additional locations including the USA, Australia, China, Brazil and India.
There’s a small snag to this. Roam-free and Roam-further are only available to new customers or existing customers who upgrade their existing pay monthly contract.
Despite this, USitch’s telecoms expert Ernest Doku is impressed: “With uncertainty over what Brexit will mean for roaming charges in the longer term, Vodafone is firing the starting gun ahead of time, keen to steal a march on its rivals and put their current customers at ease.”
Research from uSwitch shows that 24% of mobile users have returned home from a trip abroad with a large bill, the average overspend being £52. While this will no longer be a problem in the EU – at least until 2019 – it still affects travellers who go further afield. It’s not that customers aren’t aware of data roaming charges. But they either forget to turn it off (30% of people) or think they are on WiFi (27%).
“This is bound to go down extremely well with frequent flyers and business customers who represent a relatively large proportion of Vodafone’s client base,” said Doku. “This move by Vodafone is clearly part of a wider plan to address the concerns of mobile users and is something that should be applauded.”
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