Mobile operators

Improved EU roaming regulation kicks off 1 July

Residents travelling across the EU should have access to networks of equal quality as at home, says the EU.  Photo: Shutterstock

Residents travelling across the EU should have access to networks of equal quality as at home, says the EU.  Photo: Shutterstock

On 1 July, updated EU-wide regulation regarding mobile roaming and services will be extended for another ten years.

The regulation, which was implemented in 2017, allows citizens to enjoy free roaming to call, text and use mobile data in the entirety of the European Union without additional charges.

In a press release published on 29 June, the European Commission said that on top of the 10-year extension, new conditions were added to the pack. Not only will users be able to use their phones for the same prices as in their home country, but they should also benefit from equal quality of service and connection when possible.

Better connectivity abroad

“Operators providing mobile services should ensure that consumers have access to use 4G, or the more advanced 5G, networks, if these are available at the destination the consumer is visiting,” the commission said.

Additional measures include ensuring a better communication around unexpected charges. Network operators will have to warn and automatically interrupt mobile services should the customer exceed the €50 limit.

The EU also asks that operators be more transparent about hidden charges--such as fees incurred when connected to a non-terrestrial network on a boat or plane--and that they notify users of any additional costs on services like calls to a helpline.

Emergency services and price caps

For those who can’t contact the EU-wide 112 emergency phone number, mobile companies will also have to send out information on alternative ways of contacting emergency services via text message. This change should occur starting June 2023.

A price cap on wholesale charges is also part of the regulations, with a maximum cost of €2/GB in 2022, which should gradually decrease to €1/GB in 2027. Between 2022 and 2024, calls will be capped at €0.022/min and text messages at €0.004/SMS.

These changes to the existing roaming regulation came after a Eurobarometer in 2021 revealed that citizens thought they had lower internet quality and speed on their phone when travelling outside of their own country.