Technology 3 min read

European Cell Carriers Eliminate Roaming Charges

The European Union has eliminated roaming charges for cellular phone use within the EU itself. How long until U.S. Big Telecom follows suit?

Pathdoc | Shutterstock.com

Pathdoc | Shutterstock.com

It’s official: roaming charges within the European Union have officially been dropped altogether by the European Commission starting today, June 15.

Roaming charges are added when a user utilizes their device (cell phone, smartphone, tablet, etc.) outside of their home and local network.

For a nominal fee, with roaming service, customers can make and receive voice calls, send and receive data (SMS, MMS, emails, 3G/4G data) or access the Internet, while traveling in foreign countries by using another network not typically affiliated with their own.

Europe bans roaming charges altogether in the European Union.Click To Tweet

In Europe, Roam Like at Home

In the European Union, it took ten years to first regulate the roaming market and then reduce the costs before terminating them once and for all. In 2007; the European Commission issued the first Roaming Regulations, which was revised in 2012 to introduce cheaper fees.

Yesterday, the European Commission has released a joint statement that ends roaming fees altogether. From 15 June 2017 onwards, citizens making calls, sending SMS/MMS and accessing the mobile Internet, from a country to another country in the EU, will therefore benefit from rates identical to those charged by his home operator (everyone pays domestic rates).

After the European Parliament adopted the Regulation No. 2015/2120 on 27 October 2015, European operators had two years to prepare for the new regulation, hailed by the European Commission as a “European success story.”

What Does This Mean for European (and U.S.) Telecom Operators?

If the new regulation promotes a fair and sustainable use policy for consumers who will benefit from the same services without additional costs, the same cannot be said about operators.

Big Telecom operators did everything at the time to prevent these regulations from going into effect and engaged in unsuccessful lobbying attempts.

According to a report by the Body of European Regulators for Electronic, BEREC, the European wholesale roaming market generates 4.7 billion Euros a year.

Needless to say, roaming fees are a real bonus, especially for tourist countries like Spain, Italy, and France. Besides, roaming service will always have a cost for the operator, who will have to carry the communication on a network other than their own.

Europe’s new regulations will have a disruptive effect across other regions in the world that will be obliged to take similar approaches.

For example, some EU operators (like Vodafone) are already offering roaming service without extra fees for customers when in the USA. How long until U.S. operators, such as AT&T and Verizon, offer their customers traveling to Europe the same treatment?

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Zayan Guedim

Trilingual poet, investigative journalist, and novelist. Zed loves tackling the big existential questions and all-things quantum.

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