Three backs down on EU roaming as rivals move to raise prices
Three Ireland has abandoned controversial plans to offer tiny amounts of free data abroad after an EU-wide roaming law comes into place next month.
Having faced criticism from the European Commission, the reversal means most of its Irish pre-pay customers will now get more than twice the amount of roaming data in the EU than the operator had originally planned.
From June 15, roaming charges for mobile calls and texts across the EU will be abolished. However, data roaming charges will remain under a compromise deal reached between the EU and mobile operators.
'Unlimited' or 'all you can eat' data allowances can be restricted to as little as 3GB per month under the EU rules. After the new monthly restrictions are exceeded, penalty charges of €9 per gigabyte apply, leading to a new round of 'bill shocks' for thousands of Irish travellers who think that all roaming charges are to be abolished.
Three Ireland is also abandoning plans to get around EU roaming rules by attempting to separate domestic and non-domestic data usage. Under that scheme, the operator 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.
"Three will be applying the EU roaming regulation fair-use policy to 'all you can eat data' for customers when roaming in the EU," said a spokeswoman for the operator.
Separately, Meteor and Vodafone have confirmed new price rises on some mobile plans.
Meteor is reducing the credit period on pre-pay plans from 30 days to 28 days, while Vodafone is increasing some call charges by up to 25c a minute.