EU Commission Halts Plans to Scrap Mobile Roaming Charges

Plans to ban mobile phone and mobile data roaming charges and have been dropped by EU regulators, whilst also proposing net neutrality rules allowing privileged access. EU regulators called for an “intermediate step” that would enable networks to charge a premium to use mobiles abroad. Whilst updated net neutrality rules would bar discrimination for accessing the internet, but still allow prioritisation of some services.

According to a recently published report, far from ending mobile data roaming charges as promised, the Council of the European Union has recommended that operators should be allowed to add surcharges to their domestic rates.

The change in direction was said to be an interim step and ‘mindful of the costs incurred’ by the mobile networks. Effectively these changes would amount to the continuation of data roaming charges until at least 2018, when European lawmakers would reconsider whether or not to ban them.

The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) – one of the largest groups of MEPs in the European Parliament – said it would fight for an end to data roaming by the end of 2015 as planned, adding that the current proposals lacked “ambition”.
An EU regulator spokesperson said the proposals, which were weaker than those previously promised, could “lead to commercial practices that go against consumer interests”.

Current EU roaming rates are set at;

  • £0.16p/min to make a call
  • £0.05p/min to receive a call
  • £0.05p per text
  • £0.16pMB for mobile data

How can I avoid international mobile roaming charges?

  • ‘Know before you go’ – beware of the above charges you could be liable for
  • Switch your phone off in the UK and leave it off until you need it
  • Tell family and friends to only send you texts
  • Ask your mobile phone company to switch off your voicemail service while you’re away
  • Ask your provider about a separate roaming package before you travel
  • Buy an international SIM card or global data SIM that lets you make calls and access data cheaper when abroad.