Roaming charges in the EU could be abolished today

On the face of it, this is a good news story for consumers. But the abolition of EU roaming charges could also have a downside.

Legislation to abolish roaming charges should be approved today at the EU parliament. But it isn't going to be a quick changeover. Roaming charges will only leave the EU in December 2015. So another couple of summer holidays to cover before then.

When it does go, operators will not able to charge anyone heading to the European Union's 28 member states extra for calls, texts and internet use. In the meantime, charges for data will be limited in the EU, with a drop from €450 (£376) per gigabit to roam to €200 coming in from July. Obviously that will come down massively when the legislation kicks in next year. It's around £10 per gigabit in Britain right now, which should be the benchmark for new charges.

It 'should' be. However, a coalition that represents 15 operators and networks (including Three and Virgin Media in the UK) says: 'There is a risk that domestic tariffs for European consumers will increase.' It added that, 'roaming might not be subject to surcharges anymore, but the overall level of tariffs would increase, and non-roaming customers might effectively foot the bill for roaming customers.'

An alliance of the largest operators claimed last year that abolishing roaming could cost the industry €7bn in cash flow before 2020. With all of that in mind, there is every chance that bills might sneak up to offset any losses from EU legislation. We hope not, but this is business and as such, it's all about making a profit. That's the grim reality.

Of course, the legislation is only within the EU anyway. If you leave those boundaries, your roaming charges remain at the rates set and there is still the chance of a sky high bill if you don't watch the amount of data you get through in one of those far-flung places. The bottom line is really to keep an eye on your data or better still, find some freee Wi-Fi.

Source: The Guardian

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