European roaming charges could be gone by 2017


After its first attempt at establishing a free roaming plan received a significant amount of consumer criticism, the European Commission has returned with a second proposal.

In its new plan, the EC addresses some of the biggest complaints levied at the original – namely dropping the fairly restrictive time limits which would have capped free roaming at 90 days.

The EC is now suggesting that no time or volume limits should be imposed on consumers. However, to safeguard against potential abuses, operators will be able check your roaming usage patterns and compare them to your usage patterns at home.

Roam free, as free as the wind blows

The things most likely to arouse the suspicion of your operator according to the EC are consuming significantly more data than you do at home, using multiple SIM cards, or having a SIM card that only ever seems to be active when you're abroad.

Before any action can be taken, the EC says that operators will have to alert their customers that they're being monitored. If it becomes clear that a customer is abusing their free roaming access, their operator is able to apply small surcharges.

At the moment the maximum charges proposed are €0.04 a minute per call, €0.01 for each SMS and €0.85 per MB of data.

If you think your carrier made a bad call in applying these surcharges, there would be procedures created by the carrier for you to dispute them. And if no agreement is reached you'd then be able to take your complaint to the national regulatory authority who would settle the matter once and for all.

Operators will also be able to apply these surcharges even if no abuses are committed on your part should a change in their domestic market lead to price hikes or other "negative effects" for their home customers.

If this proposal goes down better than the last one, we could see roaming charges as we know them come to an end by June 15, 2017.

Free roaming would be fantastic for those who find themselves having to frequently travel through the EU.

However, though it's great that this new proposal gets rid of the annoyingly restrictive limits of the last one, the "non-exhaustive" list of criteria for abuse is still slightly unclear. What would be helpful is more clarity around just how much more data consumption would be considered an abuse.

Emma Boyle

Emma Boyle is TechRadar’s ex-Gaming Editor, and is now a content developer and freelance journalist. She has written for magazines and websites including T3, Stuff and The Independent. Emma currently works as a Content Developer in Edinburgh.