EU Finally Agrees Deal on Data Roaming Costs

The extra costs of using a mobile phone in countries across the EU are to be scrapped, MEPs have agreed, after years of negotiations.

The ban on data roaming charges from 15 June 2017 has received a final green light in the European Parliament. Roaming charges are added by mobile operators for calls, texts and internet browsing when phone users are abroad. An interim cap on charges will take effect from 30 April next year, prior to the full ban across the EU.

That means telecoms operators will be able to add a surcharge of no more than:
€0.05 (3.5p) extra per minute for calls
€0.02 extra per SMS sent
€0.05 extra per megabyte of data used

The cap would make roaming within the EU 75% cheaper during the interim period, the European Commission has said.

Commenting on the decision Mikael Schachne, VP Mobile Data Business, BICS, said, “Any decision to abolish data roaming charges would have a serious impact on the European telecoms industry, as operators look to alternative forms of income to replace revenue generated by mobile roaming fees. However, changes in legislation have the potential to transform the market landscape, ushering in a new era of innovation and collaboration from all parties in the ecosystem, including the launch of new “roaming only” pan-EU MVNOs.

We have noticed a significant uplift in data roaming over the last 12-18 months with our platform registering a 25% month by month increase in 4G roaming traffic. This demonstrates a strong appetite for data usage while travelling abroad, something that the industry can capitalise on by developing new business models and data plans that cater for the demands of this new breed of customer.

The reduction in roaming charges and introduction of innovative tariffs from agile MNOs, already seen in many markets, has led to a boom in the usage of 3G and 4G services abroad. New legislation could lead to a dynamic new marketplace that will further fuel the use of roaming services from subscribers and stimulate cross-border data usage.

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine