In February this year, it was announced that new EU legislation would abolish roaming charges. Citizens of EU member states, as with anywhere else, have always had to pay exorbitant fees to use their mobiles abroad. Each country has certain networks that offer better roaming deals, but on average the costs have been immense. Thankfully, that all stops today, as the new 'Roam like at Home' law comes into effect.
EU citizens will now be able to call, send texts, and use mobile data in any of the 28 countries of the European Union at no extra cost. Countries that are not in the EU but are part of the European Economic Area (EEA) – Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein – will introduce the same policy in the near future. Pay-as-you-go customers will be charged the standard rates they would be charged at home, and pay monthly subscribers will see roaming usage come out of their regular allowances.
Unsurprisingly, there are caveats. For example, roaming in countries of Europe that aren't EU members, such as Switzerland and Andorra, will still carry the same extortionate fees. Sneaky networks may capitalize on the ignorance of some users by increasing roaming charges in those countries to make up for having to reduce them in others. On a similar note, networks trying to stop the new law from passing warned they might have to increase local prices to compensate for the reduced earnings. Let's hope that was just an empty threat. While roaming you will still be charged if you exceed you standard allowances, and although those charges will be the same as when you exceed them at home, they're set by the networks and could also be increased.
The legislation does include a fair-use policy, designed to stop people abusing the new rules. Users spending more time abroad than at home will be subject to roaming charges similar to those previously in place. This is intended to prevent people taking out a contract in a lower-cost country to use elsewhere. There will also be a fair-use cap on data usage. Anything over “a reasonably high volume” will invoke additional fees. The exact limit will vary depending on your contract and the country in which it was signed.
Conditions aside, this is great news for us Europeans. Gone are the days of wasting your holiday searching for free WiFi because you refuse to give in and pay the ridiculous roaming fees. UK citizens (like myself) will have to fill their boots while they still can, however. When Brexit eventually comes to fruition, we may well lose these benefits.