When in roam…
The European Parliament today voted 534 to 25 to scrap roaming charges on the Continent. These make it more expensive to call and text home from Europe.
Roaming charges apply when you take your mobile phone abroad, and your handset connects to the local networks. As you’re sending and receiving data over a mobile network that your own mobile operator doesn’t own, the foreign network bills your domestic network, which in turn bills you.
The problem is, given that smartphones are so sophisticated, you could be sending and receiving data without even using your phone for calls or texts. Many apps download data automatically in the background, and if you don’t turn off your phone’s data roaming capabilities while abroad, this can run up big bills.
Last summer, the EU introduced caps on roaming charges. It said the maximum a network could charge for data, per Megabyte, was 45 cents (37p). It also capped the charges for making a call at 24 cents (20p) and for receiving a call at 7 cents (6p). Meanwhile, roaming charges for texts were capped at 8 cents (7p).
It now plans to go even further by scrapping roaming charges altogether.
Roam wasn’t scrapped in a day
Provided the changes get approval from EU governments, the fees will be scrapped from December 15, 2015.
It should put an end to holiday ‘bill shock’, when mobile users return to the UK to find they’ve unwittingly run up large bills inflated by roaming charges.
Neelie Kroes, European Commission vice president said: “Nearly all of us depend on mobile and internet connections as part of our daily lives. We should know what we are buying, we should not be ripped-off, and we should have the opportunity to change our mind. Companies should have the chance to serve all of us, and this regulation makes it easier for them to do that. It’s win-win.
"In 2010 I promised to end roaming charges by the end of 2015, and now we are one step away from achieving that result."
EU Member States will review the changes and the Commission expects them to be finalised by the end of this year.