EU drops roaming charges but beware of the pitfalls
As of June 15, 2017, there will be no more roaming fees within the European Union.
With the summer holidays around the corner, all citizens of EU member states will be able to use their phone abroad at no extra cost.
The European Union has been regulating roaming charges both within the country of origin and when travelling abroad since 2007 to make sure that phone companies do not charge extortionate fares. Since doing so, there has been a drastic increase in the use of mobile phones abroad.
What is actually changing?
Roaming charges will be abolished permanently and everyone with a European phone number will be able to call, text or use mobile data within their bundle at no extra cost, wherever they might be within the European Union. There are some other changes, however, which may not be as favourable to some.
Beware of the pitfalls
Of course, the good news comes with some rules and it's important to keep these in mind.
Free roaming within the 28 EU member states
Free calling and data usage are only valid within the 28 Member States of the European Union which include: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Some phone contracts include additional countries.
Calling abroad may still cost
Roaming refers to using your phone whilst abroad. If you call abroad from the country that issued your phone contract, extra charges may still apply. Therefore, calling abroad from the Netherlands may not be cheaper.
A four-month limit
There is now a 120-day limit for using your phone abroad without getting charged extra. The law also states that if you use your phone more abroad than you do at home, then you could also incur extra fees.
For some people, particularly expats who still use their phone from home, this may come as a disappointment. For example, phone contracts that granted unlimited free roaming for quite some time, may now be putting a limit on their usage. It is wise to check whether this applies to your service provider.
This is largely to discourage people from buying phone contracts from cheaper countries, and then using them indefinitely abroad in countries where phone contracts are more expensive.
Limits still apply
Limits still apply to unlimited bundles in Europe. This just means that even though you have "unlimited calls, texts and data", there is actually a lawful limit.
For example, if you have an unlimited bundle with Tele2 and you cross borders, you can technically only consume six gigabytes per month. It’s hard to go over that limit but if you do, you will pay a maximum of 7,70 euros per extra gigabyte.
This can rack up quickly if you are playing excessive video games, for example, which can normally take between two and four megabytes.
Loss of revenue
It is unknown how telecom companies will deal with the loss of revenue. They may decide to put up tariffs.