The European Parliament and EU member states have agreed to extend the “roam like at home” system – whereby citizens cannot be subject to extra charges for calls or data used while travelling within the EU – while adding new advantages, according to a European Commission statement on December 9.
Free of charge roaming within the EU was introduced in 2017.
The statement said that mobile phone users would be able to call, text and use mobile data while travelling within the EU at no extra costs and with the same quality they experience at home; they would have improved access to emergency communications regardless of where they are in Europe; and, they would have the right to clear information when a service they use while roaming might cause inadvertent extra charges.
The regulation will enter into force on July 1 2022.
Consumers will benefit from access to roaming services, while travelling, at the same quality as they are used to when at home, the statement said.
Consumers that usually have 5G services at home will also be able to enjoy 5G roaming services wherever available. If specific factors could impact the quality of the roaming experience, operators will be required to promptly inform their customers.
While travelling abroad, citizens may need to call customer service numbers, helpdesks or insurance companies. While these services are generally free of charge or with limited charges when phoning from home, consumers are often faced with additional costs and bill shocks when dialling in from abroad.
From now on, operators will be obliged to adequately inform their customers about such extra charges when abroad, so that they can make informed choices about using such services, the statement said.
Travellers may face surprising high bills when their phone connects to non-terrestrial networks, for example if they are on a plane or on a boat. The new regulation guarantees better information and an automatic interruption of such services when the bill reaches a cost of 50 euro, or another predefined limit. Operators may offer additional services, such as the possibility to opt out from roaming on aircraft and vessels.
The statement said that the new regulation ensures that citizens have enhanced access to emergency communications including caller location, free of charge. Operators will ensure that citizens are informed of the possibility to access emergency services through ‘112′, the single European emergency number and other alternative means of access, such as via real-time-text or available apps, for people with disabilities.
By June 2023, operators will automatically inform customers via a text message of available alternative means of accessing emergency services.
The new roaming regulation sets lower wholesale charges. These are costs charged by hosting mobile operators, in exchange for access to their respective networks, ensuring that visiting mobile operators and their clients benefit from roaming services abroad.
The wholesale caps are set at levels that ensure that operators can sustain and recover the cost of providing roaming services to consumers at domestic prices, the statement said.
For data services, the new regulation sets the following wholesale caps:
2 euro/GB in 2022, 1.8 euro/GB in 2023, 1.55 euro/GB in 2024, 1.3 euro/GB in 2025, 1.1 euro/GB in 2026 and 1 EUR/GB from 2027 onwards.
For voice: 0.022 euro/min in 2022-2024 and 0.019 euro/min from 2025 onwards.
For SMS: 0.004 euro/SMS in 2022-2024 and 0.003 euro/SMS from 2025 onwards.
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