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The end of mobile phone roaming charges in Europe?


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The end of mobile phone roaming charges in Europe?

Mobile phone roaming costs in Europe are of a concern to many people travelling outside their countries of residence.

Anita, from Dublin, asks: “I heard that soon there will be no more roaming charges when calling within the EU, thanks to a deal concluded in Brussels. Is this true and under what conditions?”

Guillermo Beltra, Head of Legal and Economic at BEUC (The European Consumer Organisation) responds: “When you travel inside the EU today, on top of your national tariffs, you pay (up to a maximum of) 19 cents per minute for each phone call you make. Six cents per SMS sent and 20 cents for each megabyte of data that you use.

“The single clearest advantage of the deal that was recently announced is that these prices will go down on the 30th of April 2016.

“As of that date you will pay (no more than) five cents per minute for each call you make, two cents for each sms you send and five cents for each megabyte that you use.

“The second important element of the deal is that these roaming tariffs should be abolished on 15 June 2017. But there is one very important condition for that to happen.

“The European institutions must complete a reform of the way in which mobile providers work with each other to provide you with roaming services.

“If they have not managed to complete that reform by 15 June 2017 the abolition of roaming will have to wait.

“Even once roaming fees will have been formally abolished, there are many strings attached. Some mobile providers will consider this is too costly for them and will apply for exemptions.

“If these exceptions are granted, they will still be able to charge you every time you travel. Other mobile providers might decide to limit the amount of time that you can use your mobile phone as if you were home.

“The details of all these exceptions are yet unknown. The announced deal is disappointing because it will not mean the end of roaming for all consumers, all the time.”

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