Europeans will be able to use their phones without fear of racking up huge bills starting from this summer after officials in Brussels confirmed they are on course to put an end to roaming charges.
Under the agreement – which still needs to be confirmed by the full European Parliament and all member states – making calls, sending texts and using the internet will now cost the same in any country of the EU, starting from 15 June. The caps on wholesale roaming charges – the amount phone operators charge each other when their customers use their phones abroad – were the last piece of the puzzle of a long-running plan needed to end roaming fees. The removal of that barrier allows the end of roaming charges.
“Goodbye roaming,” tweeted the EU lawmaker Miapetra Kumpula-Natri, who negotiated the setting of wholesale rates on behalf of the European Parliament. Andrus Ansip, European Commission vice president, said: “Today we deliver on our promise”.
However, UK mobile customers will only be able to benefit from the end of roaming charges up until the spring of 2019, when the country is expected to exit the EU. After that, it will be up to the UK Government to strike a deal to prevent British customers from facing steep mobile bills when travelling in what will then be the 27-member-state bloc.
More than 9 million UK mobile phone users suffer from so-called “bill shock” from using their phones while holidaying abroad each year, according to research by comparison website uSwitch.
People living in Switzerland, which is not part of the EU, currently pay one of the highest rates in Europe for data roaming.