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Roaming Charges End Across The EU

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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It will cost Brits the same to use their phone abroad as it does in the UK – but for how long after Brexit?

Roaming charges across the European Union have been abolished, meaning the cost of making a call, sending a text or accessing data will cost the same in another EU state as it does in the UK.

The EU has been working to lower the cost of using a mobile phone abroad over the past few years a view to today’s complete ban. The European Parliament, Council and Commission finalised regulations in February and a vote in April formally approved the agreement.

Mobile operators will be limited to charging their foreign counterparts 3.2 cents per voice call, 1 cent per SMS and €7.7 per GB of data – the cost of which will fall incrementally each year until it reaches €2.5GB in 2022.

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EU roaming

The regulations will benefit the UK until it leaves the European Union (EU) – unless the government can secure coverage as per the terms of its departure agreement. European leaders say the development will benefit Europeans and allow for the creation of pan European telecoms services, including those for the Internet of Things (IoT).

The regulations have been opposed by the mobile industry, which fears a loss in revenue. 
It is estimated that roaming revenues within the EU could fall by 28 percent from 2017, but Juniper Research says income will recover in the medium term once people start to become more comfortable using their phone abroad.

Vodafone, EE , O2 and Three have all informed customers of the changes, although some have masqueraded the legislation as a new offer. 

Other studies suggest fear of bill shock means many travellers turn roaming off and use Wi-Fi or even switch their phone off entirely when abroad, meaning no revenue is generated for operators. Some, most notably Three, have made inclusive roaming a feature of their contracts.

However some believe the caps are too high, particularly Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs).

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