14
Jun
EU
Last Updated: June 16th, 2013

Starting in July 2014, Europeans will be free of burdensome roaming charges as they travel across the European Union's 27 member states. This comes after officials voted to terminate such fees for voice calls, text messages, and internet access as part of a move to create a single European telecoms market. This is great news for French citizens hopping across the border to Germany, but it will have no impact on tourists from outside of the continent. Americans, for example, will still have their roaming fees determined by their carriers back home.

Roaming

Officials hope that this change will allow Europe to begin consolidating mobile network operators in order to improve the quality of service among member states. While Europe is roughly the same size as the United States, it has different companies catering to different countries, and this fragmentation has hampered the speed of growth. The EU predicts that carriers will first see a 2 percent drop in revenue following the change, but they will recoup this loss as customers increase how often they use their devices abroad. Being free from ridiculous charges does tend to have that effect on people.

Source: The Telegraph

Bertel King, Jr.
Born and raised in the rural South, Bertel knows what it's like to live without 4G LTE - or 3G, for that matter. The only things he likes sweeter than his tea are his gadgets, and while few objects burn more than a metal phone on a summer day, he prefers them that way anyway.

  • Tony Sarju

    This is great news and a great step forward for the EU telecom sector.

    • Daniel

      It's a great step to a unified European superstate, which is allowing things such as this to happen.

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

    Pretty cool for the EU, especially for those of us who visit on vacation and go to several countries in the span of a couple weeks. It's a little annoying / pricey to have to buy a prepaid SIM for every country you're visiting unless you want to pay the crazy roaming fees.

    • ProductFRED

      Yeah. This is huge. It'd be great if we could implement something similar for North America. The thing is the wireless industry is more regulated in Europe than it is here, so I don't see it happening anytime in the near future.

      • Sebastian Kleye

        REGULATORS! MOUNT UP!! ;)

    • Sebastian Kleye

      I doubt that you get away with this :). "The EU predicts that carriers will first see a 2 percent drop in revenue..." this would also "predict" that it will rather be available for standard 2yr contracts. They will simply disallow roaming for pepaid SIMs. End of story. But let's wait... we will see how this story ends in 2014 :).

      • Nasko Hristov

        The whole roaming thing will be banned from EU.

        • Huton Gergö

          Theoreticaly it will be rozing but on standard cerier fees and not from contract minutes :(

      • ins0mn1a

        i don't think they could get away with not allowing roaming for prepaid sims. it's already allowed, so they would have to take it away, and that's a risky move. remember, this is europe: everyone works on the same set of frequency bands, i.e. your phone works with dozens of other carriers. the barrier to switching carriers is exactly the price of a new sim card, namely around 5 euros or so. you just walk into the next store. given that the number of prepaid customers is huge (not sure if they are the majority, maybe in some countries), screwing them over might damage your bottom line.

      • jaduncan

        "They will simply disallow roaming for pepaid SIMs." If they want a court case against them for interference in the new single market for telecoms, why yes. If they want to comply with the law, why no.

  • Nasko Hristov

    Yes, that is a very good news.

  • Herman

    Finally, internet on holidays!

    Though by the time it arrives, I could already be studying in 'Murica...

  • http://aurielle.cz/ Aurielle

    Finally end to Czech 'specific market' with market oligopoly of 3 mobile operators. Going abroad and getting contract/prepaid SIM with actually acceptable prices will get worth it.

    • jaduncan

      Two words: mail order.

  • RitishOemraw

    Awesome....too bad I can;t enjoy it when I go to France later....but 2014 still isn't that far :D

  • Vlad

    Holy crap this is going to be incredible! I love this idea, especially since living in Belgium means drive more than 150 km in any direction and you're not in Belgium anymore.

  • Moronius

    I'll travel just to take advantage of this.

  • Lars Jeppesen

    This is amazing news! As a European I really look forward to this

  • Chris

    "While Europe is roughly the same size as the United States, it has different companies catering to different countries, and this fragmentation has hampered the speed of growth. "

    not to mention having a 17th centery style "queen" "king" and "prince". Still hoping that this new baby on the way will grow up not wanting anything to do with this crap. chances are it wont happen, but oh well...

    • Alm0s

      What on Earth are you talking about?

    • Tomáš Petrík

      There are maybe like 5 monarchies out of the 27 EU countries, so you shouldn't generalize.

      • Cerberus_tm

        In fact we have 12 monarchies, so a sizable minority:
        http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c2/European_monarchies.svg

        • Tomáš Petrík

          Yeah, forgot about the small countries.
          But still...

          • Cerberus_tm

            Yeah OK. (Although that's about 150 million people in European monarchies, and these people are far more prosperous on average than those in the (European) republics...)

          • Tomáš Petrík

            The "but still" was meant for the original commenter, Chris, and the stuff about the 17th century style and whatnot.

          • Cerberus_tm

            Ah OK. He's an odd fellow.

    • Alm0s

      You do realize that the United Kingdom and the European Union are in fact NOT the same thing, right? Wow, education in the US is really what they say it is...

    • Pedro

      We have a lot of bad things in Europe, sure, like everywhere else I guess, but at least our Education system works well enough for us to know the difference between Europe and the United Kingdom.

    • Danny Holyoake

      I didn't think such ignorance and stupidity still existed on the internet.

      I was wrong.

    • Christopher Lee

      Dear lord, where do you live so that I can move away as quickly as possible.

      • Krzysztof Jozwik

        Mu guess would be the Bible Belt

    • SxperiaS

      Someone is seeing to much Game of the Thrones...

    • Thatguyfromvienna

      But you are of course aware that they don't make laws or have any other influence, do you?
      Oh. No. You don't. You're the American stereotype.

    • Primalxconvoy

      Er, since when has EUROPE, a continent, had a supreme and undisputed monarch?

      Methinks you're confusing a continent with a country, Sah.

    • squiddy20

      1. You do realize some form of monarchy existed in the England/Ireland/Scotland/Wales LONG before the 17th century (aka the 1600's), right?
      2. You do realize that the Queen of England has very little ruling power, and is basically not much more than a figurehead for the people to look towards, right? (No offense meant to any UK residents)
      What an ignorant moron. I really hope you're from some backwater portion of the US that has a poor/failing education system. Otherwise, I'm ashamed I live in the same country as you...

  • duse

    The EU is ahead of the US in so many ways that support consumers instead of big business. Tell me, folk who live there - should I consider a move? :)

    • Daniel

      If you are okay with higher tax rates, which pays for social security.

    • Lukas Hetzenecker

      definitely

    • Krzysztof Jozwik

      Wait wait, you mean the US is pro big business and anti the people? Thank you Reagan for fucking our country.

  • Alm0s

    Wait.. does this mean that I can sign a contract in any country in the EU and use it in my country?

    • Daniel

      Yep. As long as its the same operator (Vodafone, T-Mobile etc) or one that has a free roaming agreement. The details still have to be made clear. It should also mean we can potentially call phones in other countries and have it use our inclusive minutes.

      • jaduncan

        No, it's a single market. You can buy from anyone anywhere. That's the point of the EU single market; carriers will soon have to compete across the EU on prices.

    • Thatguyfromvienna

      misquoted, sorry

      • Alm0s

        Pretty ironic still, since I would immediately go to Vienna to buy a phone with a contract if I could. I live in Budapest. :)

        • Thatguyfromvienna

          Ah, Budapest! I'm in Budapest a couple of times a year. Totally dig that place.
          Érezd jól magad!

    • Cerberus_tm

      I really hope this is the case and that you don't have to be, e.g., a Belgian citizen to get a Belgian plan. I'd really like to get an Estonian plan at € 0,50/GB! Let's hope they accept payments from my Dutch back account and send bills in English. They also have great plans in Austria.

      • H

        I guess you would have no problems being a client to Estonian operator, but you must remember that doing a bank transfer to another country will add a fee to the transaction, so in the end, it may not be the cheapest way.

        Also, € 0.50 for a GB? For example in Elisa, the prices are €5 for 1Mbit and €10 for 3.5Mbit 3G connection (unlimited, no caps)

  • Kompre

    Very good news!
    my carrier already started with some rates that are basically roaming free: 0,16€/minute and 0,16€/sms

    That is what a normal call or sms cost in Italy without any plan actived (but actually I don't pay anything for sms).

    The really good part it is that it works in USA too.

    The downpart is that every MB of data connection cost gold ingots; of course this is the thing I care most though.

    I really want to be able to use service like google now or translate when I need the most, i.e. abroad

  • Andrew

    I'm not sure if anyone else here has 'read between the lines' of this announcement, but it looks like the EU authorities see 'too much competition' as a problem, and are thus seeking to consolidate the market with this proposal. The result would then allow the remaining firms to jack up prices which would supposedly give them more money to 'invest in infrastructure.' Whether this would ultimately be good for the consumer is left as an exercise to the reader.

    • Cerberus_tm

      There is no competition between companies that operate in different markets: there is no way in which a Dutch telco competes with a Belgian telco. If consolidate many small markets into a large market, while keeping the same number of actors in total, you increase competition.

  • Primalxconvoy

    I suspect that, just as hardware companies imposed new restrictions after the hdmi revolution (by blocking even the same dvd regions from other countries on the ps3, for example) ; so too will hardware released in European countries receive "special" versions, compete with language restrictions, different radio antenna frequencies and/or anything else that can be created or already taken advantage of in order to allow roaming and creating a smaller market for the big European rivals, while making it difficult to purchase cheaper handsets from another country.

    • Cerberus_tm

      Um what are you talking about? All our phones are made in China anyway. Any phone can be used on any network (apart from SIM-locks).

      • Primalxconvoy

        Incorrect. Some phones run on different radio frequencies, while others require different protocols. For example, KDDI's AU network in Japan has non removable sim cards, making their version of the iphone different from anywhere else in the world. That's also why flashing roms from one country's Android phone might be dangerous to do so on the "same" model in another country.

        • H

          You are talking about Japan, but the article is about Europe :). I don't think something like that will happen here, at least at the moment there are no such things done. With my phone, I can use all the operators in my country and same applies with every phone sold here. Not 100% sure, but I think every phone sold in Europe will work in every operator as well (at least in 2G and 3G, not sure about 4G)

        • Cerberus_tm

          I have edited my comment to say "European" everywhere for maximum clarity. Unfortunately, this plan by Commissioner Kroes does not apply to Japan...

          • Primalxconvoy

            "... Germany has four main competing digital phone standards: D1, D2, E2, and e-plus (all are GSM)..."

            - http://www.german-way.com/handy.html

            Although, as you said, European phones are more uniform (GSM, same phone charger, etc), surely there is/could be a way for phone companies to fragment the market, should they choose? Going back to my ps3 analogy; before I got it, Japanese dvds worked on my British dvd player and British dvds played on my Japanese ps2 (as they are both region 1). The only problem was the different tv standards (ntsc for Japan and pal for the uk). using a scart cable or playing it on a pc solved this problem. fast forward to now, and popping in a British dvd into a Japanese ps3
            prompts a message starting that the dvd requires a different tv standard, yet this is a not point as the PS3 is connected via hdmi; a digital standard. It seems Sony intentionally crippled the already protected dvd format (probably too make their "all region" bluray format more appealing).

            This the pessimist in me sees the carriers striving for market dominance, while fragmenting the markets with needless restrictions.

          • Cerberus_tm

            Ah OK, I see what you mean. In order to do that, they would have to destroy the GSM standard. They would have to start customising the hardware of phones and get people to buy their phone from a carrier. I don't think any of those things are likely to happen any time soon, if only because people would declare such a carrier mad and walk away; but I suppose it is possible, at least in theory.

  • firethorn

    Definitely a welcome change, although I will believe that this also covers mobile data only when I actually see it in action. So far the roaming fee regulations largely affected voice calls and SMS, which I really don't care about.
    Mobile internet throughout Europe and without additional charges would truly be fantastic.

  • SetiroN

    I don't think you will be able to use another country's operator full time, they will definitely set some time limits:
    as much as I wish so, price differences are very large and there is no way that they are going to allow the whole population to get on Latvian/Estonian/Polish rechargeable plans at at 1/3rd of the price, if not less (between some countries internet data costs can differ by as much at 10 times).

    Now that I think about it, they're actually only scrapping roaming fees, nobody's saying that operators will be forced to allow you to take advantage of pre-bought minute/text/data packages (which could from now on only work within borders), just that they can't charge anything in addition, so they might just apply the normal over limit fees.
    Just an hypothesis; but going from 50€/month to 15€/month is just too good to be true.

    • Cerberus_tm

      Maybe they will block foreign calls on prepaid, and maybe you will have to be an Estonian citizen to be able to get an Estonian plan; but I don't think they will be allowed to apply over-limit fees based on what country you call to/from, because that would be the exact same discrimination between roaming and non-roaming that we have now.

      It should also be noted that most people just use very few data or none at all when in a different country, so I highly doubt their total profits from foreign calls are that high in an absolute sense (of course they are very high per MB used, but the total of MB used while roaming is so low that the total will still be low: I believe carriers have even admitted this in the EU, a while ago).

  • nemos

    Most of you seem to confuse roaming calls with international calls. If you buy a SIM from Italy and you live in the Netherlands, calling a Dutch number from that SIM is counted as an international call (Italy -> the Netherlands). However, you will have lower rates for the calls to Italy and perhaps for the net traffic.

  • Michel Schmidlin

    Great news for us Europeans! ....oh no wait! There's this small country with all the banks, the cheese and the chocolate which is in the very middle of Europe but not a part of the EU. I really regret not being a part of the EU there.

    • Cerberus_tm

      Hmm perhaps this lovely Alpine country will eventually join this free-roaming plan? You can probably arrange something without joining the EU.