EU Members Approve Roaming Rule Changes

Mobile phone roaming Europe SIM cards © 136240814 Shutterstock

We’re a step closer to “roam like at home” becoming a reality as roaming rule changes get the green light from EU member states.

The European Commission (EC) will adapt roaming rules for EU citizens this week after member states voted in favour of “fair use” proposals put forward by the commission.

With roaming charges set to be abolished in 2017, the European Union has been working to protect mobile operators by ensuring consumers won’t be able to take advantage of their new-found mobile freedom.

One fear is that mobile customers in one country might take out a plan in another because it is cheaper. To alleviate this fear, operators will be able to  carry out “proportionate checks for abuses.”

roaming mobile phone beach ©Ditty_about_summer / shutterstock

Roaming removal

Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip confirmed the news on Twitter, saying: “EU Member States voted: we can adopt proposed safeguards to make end of roaming work.”

The Commission issued a statement describing the approval as “an important step towards the end of roaming charges on 15 June 2017. We are convinced that our proposal strikes the right balance and bridges very different, often opposite views. Today’s vote means that the EU will put an end to extra charges when all travellers are calling, texting and surfing abroad from their mobile phones and devices.”

The next step for the Commission is to finalise negotiations in the wholesale roaming market, i.e. the caps operators pay each other to ensure customers stay connected when travelling once roaming charges are abolished.  EU member states have so far disagreed on where this cap should be, with tourism being one of the key factors.

Ansip and EC Commissioner Gunther Oettinger issued a joint statement addressing the subject, saying: “We are starting the negotiations with the European Parliament and the member states this week. To reach this last milestone, the Commission will continue to play its role of honest broker to help find a final agreement as soon as possible. There is no time to waste.”

Once this part of the discussions are completed, the EC’s 10-year campaign to allow consumers to pay the same rate for using mobile devices at home and abroad – also known as the “roam like at home” plan – will be significantly closer to becoming a reality.

The cost of roaming within the EU has already fallen once this year and, with roaming revenues predicted to fall by 28 percent from 2017,  businesses as well as consumers have a lot to be excited about.

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