The European Union announced yesterday (1 July) that it would abolish roaming charges within the block starting in 2017. In other words, as of January 2017, “you can use your mobile device when travelling in the EU paying the same prices as at home,” the European Commission explained in a statement. “If you pay for a monthly volume of minutes, SMS and data in your country, any voice call, SMS and data session you make while travelling abroad in the EU will be deducted from that as if you were at home, with no extra charges,” it added.
The discussion about roaming in the EU started already in 2013 during the Latvian presidency. Yesterday’s deal, however, still needs approval of 28 national governments and the EU Parliament. The “no roaming” policy was reached following wider discussions stretching back to 2013 in overnight talks between the Latvian presidency of the EU and the European Parliament. European Commission spokesman, Margaritis Schinas, said that the deal now put an end to “a long process and we’re delighted we managed to produce a result that will mean concrete improvement for citizens in the single market”.
However, analysts have already commented that 2017 might not be the final date. Apparently, major structural changes to the industry are needed to get rid of roaming entirely, which might require more time than year and a half. Dario Talmesio, Europe practice leader at telecoms, media and IT research group Ovum, said that he was not “convinced that 2017 is going to be the final date” adding that “the devil is in the detail about how to go about it. There’s a lot that needs to be clarified.” Before “no roaming” is implemented, the EU has capped prices of telecom services within the block starting in April 2016 – 0.05 euros per minute for calls, 0.02 euros per SMS and 0.05 per megabyte of data.