European Union keeps mobile roaming fees at bay for another decade – TechCrunch

Five years ago, the European Union passed rules that largely eliminated mobile roaming charges for citizens using their devices to travel across borders within the bloc. Today, lawmakers are renewing the regulation that will allow EU citizens to “roam like at home” for a full decade, meaning European consumers can avoid most additional charges when traveling within another of the 27 EU until at least 2032 -Member States (or EEA) travel.

The updated regulation also brings some new additions – including a focus on quality of service with the requirement that consumers abroad in the EU have access to the same services as at home if the same networks and technologies are available on the network of the visited member state .

This means, for example, that a roaming customer who can use 5G services at home should also have 5G roaming services – if available – in the visited Member State.

Providing quality of service does not guarantee the same mobile network speed when roaming, as network speeds can vary, but the Commission says the new rules are “intended to ensure that when a similar quality or speed is available on the visited network , the domestic operator should ensure the same quality of roaming service”.

Operators must also inform their customers about the quality of service they can expect when roaming, by indicating this in the roaming contract and by publishing information on their website.

The Commission argues that quality of service will become increasingly important as 5G roll-out expands and mobile network technology evolves (its PR includes the phrase ‘future 6G’ – alongside talk of the EU being ‘in the development and deployment of innovative digital solutions invested”).

“Regarding 5G services, it is becoming increasingly important for consumers traveling abroad to know whether they might be affected by limitations in the available network quality when using certain applications and services,” she suggests. “The new roaming rules aim to enable innovation and business development, ensure the widest use of innovative services and minimize the risk that citizens will not be able to use certain applications that require the latest network technology such as 5G when crossing internal EU borders .”

The EU executive also hailed the updated roaming regulation as a boon to digital innovation by reducing the risk of service disruption by allowing consumers to continue using their apps and services when traveling across borders in the EU.

The Commission’s PR makes no mention of conflicting recent developments in the UK – which was no longer a member of the EU on 31 January 2020 following the 2016 “Brexit” referendum to leave the EU – and where, since the EU roaming regulation, has not more importantly, most major airlines have quietly announced that they will reintroduce roaming charges for their UK subscribers traveling in the EU.

But UK mobile users may not have overlooked the fact that Brexit means a return of roaming charges if they want to travel in Europe.

Some Britons may therefore pick up a faint trace of trolling in this statement from Thierry Breton, the EU’s Internal Markets Commissioner, when he commented on the expansion of toll-free roaming within the EU, who said: ‘Remember when we had to turn off mobile data when traveling in Europe – to avoid ending up with a huge roaming bill? Well, that’s history. And we intend to keep it that way for at least the next 10 years. Better speed, more transparency: we continue to improve the lives of EU citizens.”


Another focus of the updated EU regulation is to increase transparency about the types of services that can incur additional costs when roaming, such as e.g.

The Commission says consumers using roaming should receive an SMS about “potential increased charges” for using such services.

“The SMS should contain a link to a dedicated webpage that provides additional information on the types of service and, if available, the relevant phone number ranges,” it says, suggesting that operators also include information on the types of service who may be subject to higher roaming charges in their contracts with consumers.

The updated rules are also intended to improve the provision of information and access to emergency communications across the EU – for example via the single European emergency number 112.

“Dialing emergency numbers and transmitting caller location information when roaming should be seamless and free. Likewise, citizens who cannot call 112 should be able to access emergency services free of charge when roaming, for example via real-time SMS or a smartphone application,” says the Commission.

“The new roaming rules also strengthen access to emergency services through calls and alternative means of communication in the case of cross-border use. It will also ensure that caller location reporting is seamless and free when using roaming services.”

The EU continues to regulate wholesale user caps – controlling the maximum price a visited operator can charge for another operator’s use of its network to provide roaming services – which the Commission describes as “an essential element for the sustainability of roaming”. like at home’ for operators”. Its review of the roaming market concluded that wholesale user caps should be further reduced.

“The co-legislators have agreed on a gradual reduction in wholesale caps from 2022,” it says. “These caps reflect the decreasing wholesale costs for operators to provide roaming services, provide sufficient investment incentives and maximize sustainability for EU operators.”

The Commission expects that these wholesale cost reductions will translate into consumer benefits – such as B. More generous data quotas when roaming and a reduced likelihood that consumers will have to pay surcharges for data usage that exceed the contract quotas.

Operators can still apply a “fair use” policy – ​​that is, if If a person moves to another EU country, it is better for them to switch to a local contract, since permanent roaming is no longer considered “fair use”. European Union keeps mobile roaming fees at bay for another decade – TechCrunch

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