Europe scraps roaming voice, text and data charges

By David Flynn, June 15 2017

Life just got much easier and much less expensive for travellers to Europe, with roaming charges within all EU member countries now abolished.

Under the ground-breaking 'Connected Continent' agreement, mobile phone users now pay exactly the same for voice calls, text messages and data usage regardless of which EU country they're in.

That will greatly simplify the lot of business travellers to Europe who'll be able to pick up a pre-paid SIM card in one of the EU's 28 countries and use it in any other EU member nation without any excess roaming fees as they move from one country to the next.

For example, if on your next trip to London you pick up a UK SIM card loaded with 5GB of data you'll be able to use that data without any additional fees when you zip across the Channel to France or hop a flight to Germany.

As a rule, most travellers have in the past needed to buy and juggle pre-paid SIM cards for each European country they'll be visiting.

"Roam like at home is aimed at all people who travel in the EU," explains the European Commission.

"The end of roaming charges is a true European success story. Eliminating roaming charges is one of the greatest and most tangible successes of the EU."

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

kimshep

kimshep

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 492

It amazes me that Telstra, Optus & Vodafone in Australia still cling to their 'value' messages on rates for global roaming. Yes, we know that they're making a motzah from punters not knowing any better. But how do you justify $10 per day Global Roaming adding an additional $300 (plus your normal monthly account spend on a 30 day trip? Even Voda's $5 per day rate still adds $150.

Not for me, when I can get a T-Mobile Unlimited sim for 30 days for USD $80 per month (includes international calling etc) - and allows me to maintain a permanent US cell number year round. Or a cheap Orange (or God forbid, Vodafone) EU sim for travel around the 'old' world of Europe.

Thanks AUSBT for reporting this significant EU change.  suggest that a few 'news' items regarding anything BUT the above will spew forth from the evil trio, in order to bury this announcement in the wider general press, over the next few days.

Speedbird

Speedbird

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

14 Jan 2014

Total posts 276

Three Mobile in the UK (which is a Hong Kong / Hutchinson company) provides unlimited roaming at no extra cost in 27 countries including, Australia, New Zealand, most of the EU and the US.

You use your current data and voice plan as if you were at home in the UK.

henrus

henrus

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Oct 2013

Total posts 714

and when you use it for 3 months a year in countries other than the UK then they cut of your sim... not great if you just want to keep the same number.

readosunnycoast

readosunnycoast

05 Oct 2011

Total posts 179

The problem with this new system is that there gets a point that ther is no incentive to invest in coverage but merely leverage off others investments.  It will be a race to the bottom.  Just look at what has happened in OZ with the ADSL network (for Telstra). Now they have "sold" it to NBN they are spending nothing on it.  Once something breaks down they do not invest in anything other than a bandaid solution.

guy

guy

05 Mar 2012

Total posts 26

Operators will be able to impose "fair use" limits to prevent purchasing a SIM in one country but primarly using it in another.  I would imagine this would help address the investment issue.

However, for non-EU business travellers, this could pose an issue. For example,  if you are travelling to 5 countries in one month and spending equal time in each, would they "let" you use your SIM only 20% of the time in the country you buy it, but 80% in the other countries? I guess it will depend on how they calculate it.

henrus

henrus

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Oct 2013

Total posts 714

At least some of networks are clearly defining "fair use"...

One UK network says its using large portions of your allowance whilst EU roaming and more than 60 days in a 4 month period. Meanwhile another network says its 4 months of continuous roaming.

Maybe the next step is to regulate fair use...

Chris_PER

Chris_PER

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Feb 2014

Total posts 451

Good.

Shoudy Chen

Shoudy Chen

Qantas

13 Jun 2015

Total posts 143

Down, down prices are down! 

peteshep

peteshep

15 Feb 2013

Total posts 134

*Fine print: Until Brexit, after that we'll be charging anyone from the UK a small fortune 😂

jawnbc

jawnbc

NZ

16 Oct 2015

Total posts 10

Actually not true for data. People on prepaid are only entitled to a proportion of their data allowance in their home country. People on prepaid are entitled to a smaller amount. Only phone and SMS charges are free. 

John Odlum

John Odlum

13 Sep 2016

Total posts 56

It varies between providers but if there is a 'home country only' data allocation eg 1GB out of 5GB, so only 4GB is free roaming, it's made clear at point of sale.

cyberkallen

cyberkallen

15 Jun 2017

Total posts 1

The carriers seem to handle this well (sigh!):
- Works as described only on post paid plans.

- PAYG plans charges extra and require registered SIM-cards (this is a service for EU-citizens BTW).
- Maximum roaming data levels (8-10 GB).

- Throttled speed when abroad.
etc.

Your milage may vary. This is what I have picked up so far. Will know more when in Europe next week.

henrus

henrus

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Oct 2013

Total posts 714

Currently, I'm on the Optus $130 plan (only $97 with a family and friends 25% discount) which offers Unlimited Calls, SMS and 1GB data per month in Optus Zone 1 countries. Whilst it's not amazing its still quite good value compared to say 5 years back. The ability to land in a country and not worry about the cost is amazing and it'll be great when other providers will get on board with a similar pricing method (TPG...).

Eachschoolhols

Eachschoolhols

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Jul 2016

Total posts 5

We are travelling for 6 1/2 weeks so we bought 2 x Three SIM cards in London a couple of weeks ago.  The only issue is that you have to activate prepaid vouchers in England (and they only last 30 days) or you have to have a UK registered credit card to recharge it outside the EU.... 

So, we will have to buy Italian sims anyway :(

Phil Young

Phil Young

Qantas

22 Oct 2012

Total posts 263

There is a solution to getting a topup voucher for a UK sim whilst abroad.  Go to mobiletopup.co.uk and buy a virtual topup voucher for most UK telcos.  They charge a £1 fee, and it works well.

romaau

romaau

20 Feb 2012

Total posts 66

I am flying into Istanbul shortly then off to Greece, Germany and 2 weeks in Russia. Total trip time is 5 weeks. Can I buy a prepaid sim here or am I better off just buying one over there?

John Odlum

John Odlum

13 Sep 2016

Total posts 56

You can get a prepaid SIM here through SIM Corner at https://www.simcorner.com/ but you could just as well buy one in Instanbul, for a five week stay you will probably have a lot more choice buying a SIM package in Europe.

oruspicarous

oruspicarous

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Jun 2015

Total posts 60

So if I sound ignorant, but why is the UK included in EU agreement? Or it is just until the UK invokes Article 50?

John Odlum

John Odlum

13 Sep 2016

Total posts 56

The UK is still a part of the EU.

Pazz

Pazz

16 Jun 2017

Total posts 1

I have a greek prepaid sim card (Vodafone CU) which I use every year, and reading the conditions on this sim, you can't use this sim as part of the new roaming EU charges.

Good idea to read up on the prepaid company you choose so your card works with the same EU rates.

stevo_d

stevo_d

28 Apr 2017

Total posts 5

Minor point but the article shouldn't refer to this ruling as applying to the "euro-zone". This ruling applies to the whole of the EU; the Eurozone is only the 19 countries using the euro. The UK is included because it is an EU member until at least March 2019 and may well negotiate to continue arrangements such as this.

boris45

boris45

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Feb 2017

Total posts 13

I use an AussiePost prepaid sim+. This keeps the same number no matter where I am in the world. Data charge is high but I then use free hotel wifi for this. It works fine for short phone calls and is excellent for sms. Coverage is very good worldwide.

peterh_oz

peterh_oz

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

05 Sep 2016

Total posts 13

Read the fine print for Switzerland usage. They're not part of the EU so many providers don't include roaming there without fees.

petri.ojala

petri.ojala

26 Nov 2016

Total posts 7

As mentioned, one needs to be careful e.g. in Switzerland.  Even before the latest change the data roaming fee was about 10x than neighbouring countries.

Telcos can also ask for special permission to not give up roaming fees.  EU's decision is fine when you charge 100€/mo for 10GB a'la D-Telekom but when domestic data, voice and text is unlimited at 20€/mo, EU's minimum data fees for roaming (between the telcos it's still not free) doesn't work.

For example my subscription is now with 10GB/mo of EU data and unlimited in the Nordic countries.  I also upgraded to 29€/mo where the speed is capped at 200 Mbit/s instead of 100.  Typically a proper 4G around home town is 50-100 so it was for curiosity..

Even before the latest change the data roaming fees were fine for Google Maps and email.


Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Europe scraps roaming voice, text and data charges