3 Ireland to reverse plans to offer tiny amounts of EU roaming data
3 Ireland is to reverse plans to offer tiny amounts of EU roaming data after an EU-wide roaming law comes into place next month.
The operator had outlined plans to offer EU roaming limits as low as 2GB for customers on its 60GB ‘all you can eat’ monthly tariffs.
The move had sparked a backlash from the European Commission and queries from the Irish telecoms regulator, Comreg.
3 Ireland will now follow guidelines promulgated by the European telecoms body Berec, stating that operators should offer a minimum of 5GB of roaming data in the EU for customers paying €20 per month.
The operator is also abandoning plans to get around EU roaming rules by attempting to separate domestic and non-domestic data usage. Under that scheme, 3 Ireland wanted to attribute its 60GB of domestic data as a “service benefit” rather than a “core” contract.
In this way, it had hoped that EU rules obligating it to give customers data when roaming would not have the same legal effect. However, it will no longer allocate data into “core” or “service benefit” segments for the purposes of roaming.
The operator will inform prepaid customers of its revised policy from today. It will start to notify postpay customers in several weeks.
3 Ireland will charge €9.20 per gigabyte once the allocated roaming allowance has been exceeded.
“Three has confirmed that it will introduce beneficial changes to some customers as part of the new EU roaming regulation which comes in to effect in June,” said a spokeswoman for the operator.
“In addition to continuing to enjoy All You Can Eat data as part of their plan, Three will be applying the EU roaming regulation fair use policy to AYCE data for customers when roaming in the EU. Customers will be updated shortly on how these positive changes will benefit them.
“Three continues to be the only mobile operator to offer All You Can Eat data. The application of the fair use policy means that customers can now also access generous volumes of data when roaming in the EU.”
From June 15th, calls and texts made and received by mobile phones will not be subject to any roaming laws within the EU.
However, data usage will still be limited when roaming according to how much a customer’s monthly tariff is. Typically, a €20 monthly bill can be capped at 5GB of roaming data per month, even if the same monthly plan gives “unlimited” or “all you can eat” data in Ireland. Going over the restricted data limit could result in large bills to roaming customers.
The data restrictions were agreed in a deal between European mobile operators and the European Commission. They were put in place to help operators avoid the cost of other operators charging high amounts for network access.
The Commission says that the amount of data that ordinary phone customers will be allowed to use free when roaming will gradually increase over the next three years.
Other Irish operators are starting to set out their EU roaming plans. The Carphone Warehouse-owned iD will restrict its prepay 30GB plan to 3.3GB of data within the EU, a 90pc reduction. This is allowed for by EU rules as the cost of the plan is €15 per month.
EU roaming allowances from iD for its 7GB and 30GB postpay plans will be limited to 5.6GB and 6.3GB per month, respectively.