Adrian Weckler: The giant loophole that is making a joke of EU's roaming law
We are all fools. We believed them when they said that EU roaming costs would be abolished on June 15. Now we discover that there's a giant loophole.
Three and Meteor say that the EU law ushering in a "roam like home" era this summer doesn't apply if they jigger about with their terms and conditions.
Under the benign gaze of the telecoms regulator Comreg, two out of three of Ireland's biggest mobile operators now openly say that their customers won't get the same amount of data when travelling abroad in the EU as they will at home.
Three is about to show how this can be achieved. It has new terms and conditions as part of its €5-a-month price rise. It will keep offering 'all you can eat' data (up to 60GB according to its small print) at home. But Three now says that this is a "service benefit", not a "core" part of the contract. The "core" part will be a fraction of its actual 60GB limit, as low as 1GB (and up to 7GB). By "restructuring" it this way, it only has to honour the lower bit when its customers travel across the EU and try to "roam like home". Charges of €60 for every gigabyte will apply thereafter.
If allowed to stand, and Three is confident it will, it makes a mockery of the EU roaming abolition law.
Meteor, incidentally, has the same idea and has itself put in place a two-tier data system for when the EU law passes. And now the smaller operators, such as Tesco Mobile and Virgin Media, are "reviewing their plans" around the issue. Only Vodafone is publicly saying that it will let customers use every bit of data abroad that they're entitled to at home.
What does Comreg say? "When the new rules come into force on June 15 2017, ComReg will monitor operators to ensure they are in compliance with the new rules". Except the new rules clearly only apply to calls and texts, not to the most important bit: data.
We've been lied to by the EU. We've been misled by our politicians. Our regulator appears not to be bothered.
What a joke.