The EU has, after seven years of lobbying, finally set a date for the abolition of data roaming within the 28-country bloc, meaning that bills should fall accordingly.
But don’t go thinking it’s going to be straightforward. Here are six key things you need to know about the end of data roaming.
1 It’s not over until June 2017
The European Parliament’s decision to finally ban roaming charges is obviously welcome news. But it won’t come into full effect until June 30th 2017, some 20 months away.
2 But there will be lower charges from next year
That’s not to say that roaming charges will stay the same until then. The EU has said there will be a period of interim charges, kicking in from 30th April 2016.
That means networks can’t add surcharges of more than €0.05 per minute for calls, €0.02 for texts and €0.05 for data.
Remember, most of us enjoy inclusive minutes and texts which generally will not apply outside the UK, so a per minute rate, however low, is still an additional cost to consider.
3 This is the final decision
Charges were supposed to be abolished this year. But due to squabbles between networks and regulators, the date was pushed back.
However, the vote of the European Parliament is binding and means that there won’t be any more delays.
4 Although it could mean price rises
That bill, though, could rise when it comes to signing a new contract.
Networks in tourist-reliant countries in southern Europe have argued that they should have been allowed to keep charging extra, especially as the money they make helps prop up otherwise teetering economies.
A move towards a more democratic charging system will mean networks will lose money, hence critics fear they could ramp up domestic costs to compensate. Expect regulators to keep a keen eye on proceedings.
5 Going outside the EU will still cost you
The EU may be about to kill off roaming for good. But leave the union and you’ll likely find yourself getting clobbered for using data and making calls.
Roaming rates of more than £1.00 per minute to make or receive a call, and data rates of £6.00 per MB mean that the roaming rip-off still exists as soon as you travel further than your favoured EU holiday spot.
6 Still make sense to consider your options
Many will vote with their fingers – and turn mobile roaming off on their devices, or risk free public wifi. However, it still makes sense to check out alternative roaming solutions via companies like 0044.co.uk and dataroam.co.uk where simply swapping your SIM can save you hundreds in the EU and thousands further afield.