Tuesday 27 September 2016

It's goodbye to roaming bills as EU finally takes some action

Published 01/07/2015 | 02:30

"From 15 June 2017, you can use your mobile device when travelling in the EU paying the same prices as at home," said the European Commission

Mobile phone roaming bills are finally set to become a thing of the past as the EU moves to abolish travel surcharges for calls, texts and internet data by June 2017.

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The move means that Irish phone users will save an average of €100 per year on extra fees from using European mobile networks when abroad.

The new EU rules will also apply to 'bundled' data, text and calls.

"From 15 June 2017, you can use your mobile device when travelling in the EU paying the same prices as at home," said the European Commission. "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."

Roaming was due to be abolished this year, but the date was moved back after some EU governments intervened on behalf of mobile operators.

At present, EU roaming charges are capped at 20 cents per megabyte of data, six cents per text message and 19 cents per calling minute.

A partial roaming reduction will occur in April 2016, when rates will be reduced by 75pc.

Consumer groups have welcomed the news, but are warning of a 'fair use' exception to the roaming abolition that has yet to be clarified.

The "fair use safeguard" will have a "limit" after which a "small fee" can be levied.

The European Commission has yet to explain what the "limit" will be.

"The rules prevent abusive uses," said a European Commission spokesman.

"For example, if the customer buys a SIM card in another EU country where domestic prices are lower to use it at home, or if the customer permanently stays abroad with a domestic subscription of his home country. This is not the usual use of roaming as the vast majority of Europeans experience it. These unusual behaviours are also called 'permanent roaming' and could have a negative impact on domestic prices, and ultimately on consumers."

The spokesman said that the Commission would decide the scope of the fair use limit in due course.

Irish Independent

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