The Strategist

What you need to know about abolished roaming charges in EU

07/28/2017 - 17:57

Citizens of the EU countries can now use mobile communications without roaming for more than a month. The payment was canceled on June 15, just at the beginning of the holiday season. Now, a traveler across Europe can buy just one SIM card that can be used all over the EU and even in a number of other countries. The price of calls, sms-messages and mobile Internet will equal to the same price in the country where this card was purchased. However, there are a few pitfalls to be aware of.

The new rules are applied in all 28 EU member states and in three non-member states - Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland. They relate to both prepaid SIM cards and cards tied to a contract. The danger lies in the fact that some countries that have canceled roaming are neighbors with those where the new rules do not work - for example, if a German SIM card is used in Switzerland, which has not joined the agreement.

The cancellation of roaming is not applied to sea territories. Therefore, when going on a cruise, it is worth remembering that downloading your photos on the board of a snow-white liner can result in a large check. Offshore mobile communications work via satellite. In this case, the phone automatically connects to the only available network. Viewing one page on the Internet using satellite communication can cost from 20 to 40 euros, WDR correspondents have found out. And if a smartphone automatically downloads e-mail messages or installs updates, it can cost from thousands euros. The same goes for ferries and planes.

During a trip within the European Union and in countries that have joined the agreement on canceling roaming, you can call, send SMS messages and use the mobile Internet without additional payment. However, there are exceptions. In some cases, cellular operators have a right to charge subscribers a surcharge - for example, to combat abuse.

Residents of EU countries are prohibited from using a SIM card purchased abroad with a more favorable tariff on a permanent basis in their home region. In such cases, mobile operators are allowed to issue a warning to the subscriber after four months, and increase the cost of mobile communication for him.
This fair use policy applies to uploading data via the mobile Internet. Cellular operators can introduce a limit on the amount of data for which the subscriber pays for the home tariff, and charge an additional fee when this limit is exceeded.

This rule is valid even if the subscriber's home tariff does not include restrictions on the amount of data. So the bill for mobile communication can quickly grow if you download movies via the mobile Internet or constantly use Google Maps navigation service on vacation. Problems can also arise with prepaid SIM cards, which do not provide limits on the use of data or the number of calls.

Even conversations between users of one mobile operator can be fraught with additional expenses, if one user is abroad. Such calls in the home region are free in many mobile operators. However, a fee may be charged for them on a trip. 

To regulate the additional costs of subscribers, the EU introduced limits on intra-industry tariffs, for which operators provide each other with services. So, a cellular company cannot claim more than 7.70 euros per gigabyte for the provision of mobile Internet services to a partner operator. Over time, this threshold will be reduced: from January 1, 2022, it should be 2.50 euros per gigabyte. For telephone conversations and messages, this upper limit is 3.2 cents per minute and 1 cents per SMS message.

To avoid additional costs, it is also necessary to remember that, despite the cancellation of roaming, international calls - for example, from one EU country to another - still remain expensive.


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