Digital Single Market
Digital Economy & Society

Roaming

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Going abroad? EU rules keep down the cost of using your mobile phone and smart device when roaming.

For a decade, the Commission has been working to reduce the surcharges that telecoms operators imposed on their customers each time they crossed a border while using their mobile device on holiday or during business trips. Since 2007, roaming prices have decreased by more than 90%. In 2015, and based on a proposal of the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council agreed to end roaming charges for people who travel periodically in the EU. "Roam like at Home" - where customers pay domestic prices, irrespective of where they are traveling in the EU - will become a reality for all European travellers by June 2017.

Evolution of roaming tariffs

The results on roaming tariffs speak for themselves:

  • Since 2007 the EU has achieved retail price reductions across calls of 92%
  • Since 2009 the EU has achieved retail price reduction across SMS of 92%
  • Data roaming is now up to 96% cheaper compared to 2012 when the first EU retail price cap became applicable on data roaming
  • Between 2008 and 2015, the volume of the data roaming has been multiplied by more than 100

What has the Commission done so far?

December 2016: the Commission formally adopts a roaming fair use policy

After intensive consultations of the revised draft with the European Parliament, Member States, stakeholders, consumer representatives, BEREC (Body of European Regulators in Electronic Communications) and operators, the College of Commissioners discussed the draft rules which reinforce the approach adopted by the College in September 2016 to end roaming charges in the European Union in 2017.

The latest measure was voted by Member State's representatives on 12 December 2016 and formally adopted by the College of Commissioners on 15 December 2016. Read the two impact assessments. This act, adopted on 15 December 2016, has not yet entered into force. It will enter into force 20 days after its publication in the Official Journal of the UE (17 December 2016).

The approved fair use policy makes sure that all European travellers will enjoy the "Roam like at Home" opportunity by paying the same price for mobile calls, SMS or data whether they travel away from their "home" (their country of residence or with which they have stable links). The measure further clarifies consumer rights and introduces safeguards to ensure the most competitive domestic offers remain attractive.

Read the factsheets to have an overview of the proposal.

September 2016: the Commission discusses a revised draft for the end of roaming in time for June 2017

There should be no limits in terms of timing or volume imposed on consumers when using their mobile devices for travelling abroad in the EU. At the same time, the draft provides a solid safeguard mechanism for operators against potential abuses.

This new mechanism will be based on principle of residence or stable links European consumers may have with any EU Member State (frequent and substantial presence in the Member State of the roaming provider, for example).

The safeguards for operators cover abuses based on residence or permanent links to an EU country, and in case of exceptional circumstances in the domestics markets. In both cases, operators will have to alert their users, and they will be able to apply small surcharges (the Commission proposed a maximum of €0.04/min per call, €0.01/SMS and €0.0085/MB).

Read more details in the press release (15/09/2016), and access the draft proposal (26/09/2016).

June 2016: the Commission proposed a maximum regulated wholesale roaming charges

For the abolition of retail roaming charges to be sustainable throughout the EU, national wholesale roaming markets need to be competitive and to enable operators to offer retail roaming services without any charges in addition to the domestic price. Wholesale prices are those which operators charge each other for using their network. That is why the Roaming Regulation entrusted the Commission with the task of reviewing the wholesale roaming markets and making appropriate proposals before 15 June 2016, in order to enable the abolition of retail roaming charges from 15 June 2017. As a result of the various analyses, the Commission proposed on 15 June 2016 to set maximum regulated wholesale roaming charges at € 0.04/min, € 0.01/SMS and € 0.0085/MB. This is important to prepare the end of roaming charges for consumers travelling in the EU set for 15 June 2017.

October 2015: the European Parliament voted in favour to end roaming charges

In October 2015 the European Parliament's plenary voted in favour to end roaming charges when travelling in the EU by June 2017 (see details). Consumers will pay the same price for calls, texts and mobile data wherever they are travelling in the EU. Calling a friend when you are at home or in another EU country won't make a difference on your bill.

Already from April 2016, roaming has become cheaper: operators may only charge a small additional amount to domestic prices up to € 0.05 per minute of call made, and up to € 0.0114 per minute of call received, € 0.02 per SMS sent, and € 0.05 per MB of data (excl. VAT).

September 2013: legislative proposal adopted by the Commission

High premiums for roaming calls are an excessive irritant to business and leisure customers; they are a market distortion with no rational place in a single market – they teach users to fear their phones instead of using them. To tackle this issue, on 11 September 2013, the European Commission adopted a legislative package for a "Connected Continent: Building a Telecoms Single Market" aimed at building a connected, competitive continent and enabling sustainable digital jobs and industries.

2007: "Eurotariff"

The European Commission's first rules to address overcharging in roaming prices came in 2007 - the “Eurotariff” capped maximum prices for phone calls made and received while abroad. These maximum prices apply to all consumers, unless they opt for special packages offered by operators. These rules have since been periodically reviewed and reformed, with further reductions in price caps and automatic protections against data roaming bill shocks.

Last updated on 15/12/2016 - 15:43
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