At last, the days of paying over the odds for making calls, sending texts and frantically checking on your Fantasy Football team’s progress are coming to an end.
The EU has finally set a date for the abolition of data roaming within the 28-country bloc, meaning that bills should fall accordingly.
But don’t go thinking it’s going to be straightforward. Read on and we’ll tell you five key things you need to know about the end of data roaming.
1 It’s not over until June 2017
The European Parliament’s decision to finally ban roaming charges is obviously welcome news. But it won’t come into full effect until June 30th 2017, some 20 months away.
To put that into context, England will have crashed out of Euro 2016 in the group stages, Lewis Hamilton will be halfway to a fifth world title and Britain may not even be a member of the EU by the time the rules are enforced.
2 But there will be lower charges from next year
That’s not to say that roaming charges will stay the same until then. The EU has said there will be a period of interim charges, kicking in from 30th April 2016.
That means networks can’t add surcharges of more than €0.05 per minute for calls, €0.02 for texts and €0.05 for data.
The European Commission reckons this will see what you pay for roaming slide by 75%, although until bills start dropping on doormats, that remains to be seen.
We say proceed with caution if you don’t have a roaming bundle as part of your contract.
3 This is the final decision
Charges were supposed to be abolished this year. But due to squabbles between networks and regulators, the date was pushed back.
However, the vote of the European Parliament is binding and means that there won’t be any more delays.
So come summer 2017 you can surf and text to your heart’s content, knowing your bill will be just what you expect it to be.
4 Although it could mean price rises
That bill, though, could rise when it comes to signing a new contract.
See, networks in tourist-reliant countries in southern Europe have argued that they should have been allowed to keep charging extra, especially as the money they make helps prop up otherwise teetering economies.
A move towards a more democratic charging system will mean networks will lose money, hence critics fear they could ramp up costs to compensate. Expect regulators to keep a keen eye on proceedings.
5 Going outside the EU will still cost you dear
The EU may be about to kill off roaming for good. But leave the union and you’ll likely find yourself getting clobbered for using data and making calls.
Offers such as Three’s Feel At Home do work in countries outside the EU, including the USA and Australia.
But in order to keep costs down, you’ll need to buy a bundle from your provider if you’re not on a crack–of–dawn Ryanair jet to The Continent.