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EU proposes ending mobile roaming charges by mid-2014

Samantha Tomaszczyk
June 14, 2013

The proposal, which could see operator revenue drop by two per cent, has been welcomed by UK price comparison site uSwitch

The European Commission has proposed scrapping roaming charges for voice, texts and data access in the region by July 1 2014.

The body, made up of representatives from each of the EU’s 27 members, said the proposal was designed to encourage European operators to merge.

It is hoped consolidation will mean operators are more able to invest in improving their networks.

Roaming charges in Europe are currently regulated to ensure customers do not experience ‘bill shock’. For example, EU laws cap usage at £50 and require all European operators to inform customers via text when they have entered a roaming zone and how much it costs to call, text and use data there.

However, proposals voted through on Tuesday (June 11) go even further and, subject to agreement from the other European institutions, could see roaming charges removed completely.

This means UK residents holidaying in France, for example, would not pay any more to use their phone there than they would in the UK.

A source cited by the Telegraph said European officials estimate the scrapping of roaming charges to reduce operators’ revenues by two per cent.

Operators will gain in the long term as customers increase their use of mobile services abroad, the source said.

The last time the commission proposed getting rid of roaming rates, Vodafone chief executive Vittorio Colao said mobile phone companies would stop investing in networks unless the EU stopped imposing price cuts.

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The news was welcomed by comparison site, which said it will better protect customers from bill shock.

uSwitch telecoms expert Ernest Doku said: “Our research shows that 15% of Brits have unfortunately arrived home from holiday to massive phone bills – averaging £120 each on top of their typical monthly bills – due to roaming charges racked up on foreign turf.

“For those jetsetting within the EU where roaming charges are now capped, there is some protection, but 12% of Brits holidaying in Europe have still managed to clock up big roaming bills.

“Scrapping all roaming charges in EU countries is a real win for consumers. Not only will we be better protected from bill shock, but the doors will be open to foreign networks looking for a piece of the market in Britain, which could mean cheaper mobile deals too.

“But Brits still need to be extremely careful when using mobiles in non-EU countries where there is still no protection at all.”


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