Good news for travellers as EU roaming scheme extended for 10 YEARS

The EU “roam like at home” scheme has been updated bringing added benefits for consumers and businesses, and guaranteed freedom for at least 10 more years.

The new regulations are effective from today July 1, extending the right of EU citizens to use their mobile phones throughout Europe as they would in their home country until 2032.

New benefits for businesses and consumers have been added to the new regulations and in particular an improved roaming experience.

Better mobile internet speed

Consumers now will have the right to the same quality of mobile internet abroad, as the one they have at home. Operators providing mobile services should ensure that consumers have access to use 4G, or the more advanced 5G, networks, if these are available at the destination the consumer is visiting. Consumers should be able to find information about network availability in their mobile service contracts and on the operators’ websites.

Preventing unexpected hidden charges

When consumers travel by plane or on boats, mobile phones may automatically connect to the on-board network, provided by satellites. Using mobile connection services provided by non-terrestrial networks may be subject to very high surcharges. The new roaming rules oblige operators to protect their consumers and notify them if their phones switch to a non-terrestrial network. Additionally, operators should automatically interrupt mobile services if the mobile services over non-terrestrial networks reach charges of €50 or another predefined limit. Operators may also offer additional services, such as the possibility to opt-out from roaming on planes and boats.  

More information for better choices

Consumers should be able to make informed decisions about using services that may subject them to additional costs. When travelling abroad, calling customer service, insurance and airline helpdesks, or SMS texting to participate in contests or events, may be more expensive than it costs at home. Operators have to make sure to provide consumers with information about the types of phone numbers that may carry additional costs when consumers dial or access them from abroad. Operators should inform consumers via automatic SMS messages sent when crossing the border to another EU country, as well as in the service contracts.

112 – Emergency communication while travelling

The new roaming rules are ensuring that citizens are aware of the single EU emergency number 112, which they can use anywhere in the EU to reach emergency services. By June 2023, operators should send automatic messages to their customers who travel abroad to inform them about the available alternative means of reaching emergency services, such as through real-time text or apps. Those citizens who are not able to make voice calls may use these alternative means.

Lower inter-operator prices, better conditions for consumers

The new Roaming regulation sets lower wholesale charges, the cost to operators for using networks abroad to provide services to their customers when they are abroad. The wholesale caps are set at levels that ensure that operators can sustain and recover the cost of providing roaming services to consumers at domestic prices:

  • For data services, the new regulation sets the following wholesale caps: 2 €/GB in 2022, 1.8 €/GB in 2023, 1.55 €/GB in 2024, 1.3 €/GB in 2025, 1.1 €/GB in 2026 and 1 EUR/GB from 2027 onwards.
  • For voice: 0.022 €/min in 2022-2024 and 0.019 €/min from 2025 onwards.
  • For SMS: 0.004 €/SMS in 2022-2024 and 0.003 €/SMS from 2025 onwards.

Lower wholesale charges benefit consumers, as they should ensure that all operators are able to offer competitive roaming subscriptions in line with the “roam like at home” principle.

Why the changes

In the latest Eurobarometer from February 2021, 33 per cent of respondents who travelled abroad had lower mobile internet speed than they usually had at home, and 28 per cent had a lower network standard abroad (i.e. a 3G network instead of 4G).

study conducted by the Joint Research Centre found that 25 per cent of customers had, at least once, experienced a worse quality of service in roaming compared to at home, even when network conditions could have provided better quality. As the previous Roaming regulation was due to expire on 30 June 2020 and, in order to allow all mobile phone and Internet users to continue being connected at no extra charge when travelling across the Member States, the Commission had proposed in February 2021 a new improved Roaming regulation. It enters into force tomorrow, 1 July.

In confirming that the new rules apply from today Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President for a Europe Fit for the Digital Age, said: “With our roaming regulation we have all benefitted from Roam-like-at-home. We can call, text and use the Internet without extra costs when we travel in the EU. This is a very tangible benefit of our European Single Market. Prolonging these rules will keep inter-operator prices competitive, and allow consumers to continue enjoying free-of-charge roaming services for the next ten years.”

Her views were echoed by Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal Market, who added: “Remember when we had to switch off mobile data when travelling in Europe — to avoid ending up with a massive roaming bill? Well this is history. And we intend to keep it this way for at least the next 10 years. Better speed, more transparency: we keep improving EU citizens’ lives.”

The EU “roam like at home” has been a boon for European residents and the news that it has been both extended and improved with additional benefits, will be widely welcomed.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article, do remember to come back and check The Euro Weekly News website for all your up-to-date local and international news stories and remember, you can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

FacebookTwitterRedditWhatsAppTelegramLinkedInEmailCopy Link
Go Back
Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]


    Leave a comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *