This month, June 2017, mobile network service providers aim to remove roaming charges throughout the Europe Union. This seems to mean telephone calls, sending text messages and using the Internet anywhere in Europe may cost the same as it did in the UK, despite one’s location within the European Union (EU). Using a mobile phone abroad seems to be a taboo subject in the mind of travellers. This seems to be primarily due to the inflated costs associated with roaming abroad. Roaming charges may have resulted in travellers being surprised when they receive their bill at the end of their holiday. However, this may soon be a thing of the past.
This all seems to be the result of a new agreement which is set to remove the stigma from roaming charges by reducing them within the EU. According to a press release from Gov.uk, “the UK led the charge in securing agreement across the EU as part of the Single Market in telecoms.” This agreement seems to be the start of an international change to mobile networks and the way roaming fees are handled. The government aims to systematically reduce roaming charges in every EU country. Officials predict by the end of 2017 roaming charges may be completely abolished.
To understand how this may affect mobile consumers as they travel, a new system for managing mobile usage abroad has been implemented. Traditionally, when calling abroad, mobile customers may have to pay a surcharge. This surcharge is the base fee for roaming abroad and often mobile users have domestic charges, local tariff one might pay, added on top of this. However, with these new changes, the surcharge aims to be completely be removed, charging mobile owners only their standard domestic rate.
The government claims this change might save UK customers “up to 38p per minute on calls and potentially up to 1.4 billion a year in roaming charges.” This means network providers aim to charge roaming fees from each individual’s domestic mobile tariff plan at the same price they are accustomed to. Many seem to be dubbing this new shift, “roam at home rules” because there are no additional roaming charges being implemented. These changes seem to be applied to all mobile customers, whether on pay as you go or monthly plan.
Most UK mobile network providers aim to embrace this change and providers such as EE seem to already offer 4G coverage to those roaming within the EU. EE already has 125 networks around the world in an effort to ensure mobile consumers at all times have a steady network connection. The company O2 have also announced Europe Zone as part of their existing tariffs. A different name, yet a similar principle of roaming tariff reductions.
However, it may be worth noting, this new change only applies to individuals travelling periodically, such as a holiday, short break or business trip. When travelling within the EU many network providers have stated customers may experience little volume restrictions for voice calls and SMS. Yet, it seems certain rules and limitations may be put in place for the usage of data, something which may affect users depending entirely on the mobile contract they have.
With this new legislation being implemented it seems concerns about roaming charges aim to be reduced. Those travelling in the EU may focus their attention on other things and use their mobile devices freely when needed. Although this change seems to be affecting the majority of networks, it seems essential to check one’s personal provider if travelling abroad to confirm whether the package, tariff or contract being used benefits from these changes.
How might the reduction of roaming charges encourage mobile usage abroad?