EU to cap ban on mobile roaming fees at 90 days
New EU rules on mobile phone roaming will not allow consumers free rein to make calls around Europe without incurring extra fees.
The European Commission has revealed the abolition of mobile roaming fees will only apply for periods under 30 days and can't be used for more than 90 days in any one year.
Under a newly published 'fair use' clarification, Brussels has confirmed the ban on roaming fees is not open-ended. Operators can charge top-up fees of 4c per minute and 0.85c per megabyte of data in some circumstances.
The Commission says that the roaming restrictions are designed to stop people abusing the new rules to get the cheapest mobile deal in another European country.
However, consumer groups are crying foul, claiming the EU has buckled under pressure from big telecom firms.
"This does not amount to the end of roaming in the EU," said Johannes Kleis, a spokesperson for European consumer advocacy body BEUC.
And there are fears that the new restrictions may unfairly punish Irish mobile users.
"This regulation puts citizens on the periphery of Europe at a disadvantage," said Irish complainant Peter O'Kane in a written objection.
"The requirement to register on the home network every 30 days is discriminatory. For users from Ireland a flight or boat trip would be required. A common case is that of a family who reside in one member state but have members of the family visit extended family in another [EU] member state during summer school holidays. This can easily be for a period exceeding 30 days but is clearly less than 90 days and does not represent a change of residence."
Earlier this year, roaming fees across the EU fell by 75pc as new regulations kicked in. Fees are supposed to be banned altogether from June 2017.