From today, 15th of June 2017, Europeans travelling in the EU will “Roam Like at Home” will no longer see the humongous phone bills.
Since 2007 the European Comimssion has been working on ending the roaming charges when citizens travel within the EU Member States.
You pay exactly the same price for using these services when travelling in the EU as you would if you were at home. In practice, your operator simply charges or takes your roaming consumption from the volumes in your domestic mobile tariff plan / bundle.
Roam like at home is intended for people who occasionally travel outside the country where they live or have stable links i.e. they work or study there. It’s not meant to be used for permanent roaming. As long as you spend more time at home than abroad, or you use your mobile phone more at home than abroad, you can roam freely at domestic prices when travelling anywhere in the EU. This is considered a “fair use of roaming services”.
IMPORTANT: If you use your mobile phone abroad permanently, your mobile operator may charge you for your roaming use. These charges are capped however.
When you cross a border within the EU, you will continue to receive a text message from your mobile operator informing you that you are roaming and reminding you of its fair use policy.
In which countries can I roam like at home starting on 15th of June?
In all 28 countries of the EU: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom.
In the countries of the European Economic Area: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway roam like at home will be introduced shortly after 15 June.
Data limits – pre-paid cards
If you have a pre-paid card (meaning that you pay in advance for using your mobile phone) you can roam like at home. However, your mobile operator may apply a roam like at home limit for data if you pay per unit and your domestic unit price for data is less than €7.70 per GB.
If your mobile operator applies a roam like at home volume limit for data, that limit should be at least the volume obtained by dividing the remaining credit on your pre-paid card by €7.70 as soon you start using data roaming services. You will get the same volume of roaming data that you have paid for in advance. You can of course top up your credit while roaming.
So, now there is no excuse for you to not to take your phone with you to your holidays. Take pictures, videos, share your favourite holiday moments in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and all other networks. Life has really become easier now that you don’t have to worry about your phone bill.
How is this limit calculated? The EU says:
If you want to check the operator’s calculation, here is how: the roaming data volume must be at least twice the volume obtained by dividing the price of your mobile bundle (excluding VAT) by €7.7. For your information, €7.7 is the maximum price that your operator has to pay the foreign operator for 1 GB of data when you are abroad in the EU during 2017. This means that you may get more roam like at home data than the volume your operator can purchase with your monthly subscription from the foreign operator whose network you are using abroad.
Example: At home, you have a mobile bundle including unlimited calls, SMS and data for €42 (€35 excluding 20% VAT). When travelling in the EU, you get roam like at home for unlimited calls and SMS, and at least 9.1 GB of data (2*(35 / 7.7) =9.1).
What about Brexit?
The other big unknown, of course, is Brexit. “It is currently unclear how Brexit will play out, what it will mean. If the UK becomes non-EU country roaming could be unregulated in which case we are back to square one,” said Luca Schiavoni, senior analyst at Ovum.
But fears remain that once Brexit takes place the gains could be reversed. And holidaymakers will still need to be careful about getting caught out in some non-EU countries such as Switzerland, Andorra and even the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, which are not formally part of the EU or even the European Economic Area (EEA).
Some mobile operators are choosing to include these areas in their new roaming-free packages, but others are not. What’s more, Turkey appears to be half in, half out – Vodafone is treating it the same as the EU but others are not.
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