Thanks to Miapetra Kumpula-Natri, the EU lawmaker who negotiated for the setting of wholesale rates on behalf of the European Parliament, we can now all experience lower bills when we head to the rest of Europe and use our phones compared with using our phones prior to June 15th 2017.
The new EU rules were supposed to ensure we as customers didn’t face any additional charges when using data, sending texts or calling when roaming in Europe (plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway soon after) however some sneaky phone operators in the small print have revelead that many who have unlimited or cheap priced data allowances may and still can be charged for usage over a certain predetermined limit (check your small print/give them a call).
Example: Three – 4GB/£9pm sim owner might find they can use just over 2GB of this allowance in Europe, the rest would be charged at £7.80/GB.
So what did the European Commission say would happen:
“From that day [June 15th], you can use [your] phone (including data) when travelling in the EU and pay the same prices as you do at home.”
What has actually happened:
If you call or send texts anywhere in Europe after June 15th you won’t be charged any other rate than what you would be charged at home. If you have unlimited calls/texts or an allowance this will remain the same when you visit Europe. Although we suggest you double check this with your operator before and after your visit just in case they accidentally charge you.
If you use data anywhere in Europe you might be faced with a ‘Fair Use’ restriction which may limit the amount of data you can use in Europe before you’re charged. Each provider and tariff will vary so check your individual tariff before you jet off.
Any other things I need to know?
Yes, there’s another ‘Fair Use’ restriction in place which stops those moving to Europe temporarily/permanently from abusing the system. Basically, if you roam in one country in the EU more than you use your phone in the UK – over any 4-month period – your network may begin charging you, for calls, texts and data.
How much will I be charged if I go over?
Those going beyond their cap will face maximum charges of €7.70/GB (the wholesale rate) plus VAT to continue using data – so £7.79/GB by today’s exchange rate.
Good news, the maximum they will be able to charge you will drop each year as follows: €6/GB + VAT as of 1 January 2018, €4.5/GB + VAT in 2019, €3.5/GB + VAT in 2020, €3/GB + VAT in 2021 and €2.5/GB + VAT in 2022.
Steve Nowottny, news and features editor at MSE, said:
“Of course, any action to curb the extra costs travellers face when using their phone in Europe is welcome, and many will see bills drop when the new rules come into force in June. But our analysis shows it may be premature to declare ‘the end of roaming charges’. In fact, the small print leaves the door wide open for firms to continue charging users extra.
“It remains to be seen whether mobile providers take advantage of this loophole. But as the rules stand, it’s entirely possible many with competitively priced mobile bills will have to continue paying additional roaming fees to use their full UK data allowance abroad
Where can I learn more?
- European Commission FAQ section
- EE – Roaming details
- Three – Roaming details
- O2 – Roaming details
- Vodafone – Roaming details
- Giffgaff – Roaming details
- Plusnet – Roaming details
- BT – Roaming details
- Tesco – Roaming details