On September 21, 2016, the European Commission has redrafted the proposal to ending roaming charges in the EU.
The new approach agreed by the EU Commission removes the limits of 90 days a year and 30 consecutive days placed in the original proposal.
“We will not put any kind of limits on duration or, how many days [travellers] can enjoy no roaming surcharges, but we decided to put some clear safeguards on residency“, pointed out the Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip.
The new mechanism is based on principle of residence or stable links each EU citizen has, including the need of frequent and substantial presence in the member State of the roaming provider.
The Commission clarified that “stable links” include work commuters, expats who are frequently present in their home country or Erasmus students.
The aim of the Commission is to introduce rules to enable all travellers using a SIM card of a member State in which they reside or with which they have stable links to use their mobile device in any other EU country, just as they would at home.
The revised proposal also provides efficient measures for operators against potential abuses from customers of their Roam like at home services.
Operators will be able to check consumers’ usage patterns to avoid the abuse of the Roam like at home benefits. In such cases, operators will be able to apply small surcharges (no more than € 0.04/min per call, € 0.01/SMS and € 0.0085/MB on data roaming) after alerting abusive users, if the following conditions are met:
- insignificant domestic traffic compared to roaming traffic;
- long inactivity of a given SIM card associated with use mostly, if not exclusively, while roaming;
- subscription and sequential use of multiple SIM cards by the same customer while roaming.
The aforementioned safeguards aim to protect operators from the mass purchase and resale of SIM cards for permanent use abroad.
Since mobile phone costs vary significantly across the 28 countries, with prices in some countries more than six times cheaper than in the others, telecom companies would be damaged if consumers could buy cheap sim cards in one country and use them permanently in another.
The College of Commissioners will adopt the final proposal by December 15, 2016, following feedback from the Body of European Regulators in Electronic Communications (BEREC), Member States and all interested parties.
The agreement will see the end of roaming charges as of June 15, 2017 for people who travel periodically in the EU.