Mobile phones: Data roaming charges will be abolished

By Kevin Peachey
Personal finance reporter

Tourists with mobileImage source, AFP

Extra costs of using a mobile phone in countries across the EU are to be scrapped, MEPs have agreed, after years of negotiations.

The ban on data roaming charges from 15 June 2017 has received a final green light in the European Parliament.

Roaming charges are added by mobile operators for calls, texts and internet browsing when phone users are abroad.

An interim cap on charges will take effect from 30 April next year, prior to the full ban across the EU.

Media caption,
Alex Forsyth explains how the deal to abolish EU data roaming charges will work

That means telecoms operators will be able to add a surcharge of no more than:

  • €0.05 (3.5p) extra per minute for calls
  • €0.02 extra per SMS sent
  • €0.05 extra per megabyte of data used

The cap would make roaming within the EU 75% cheaper during the interim period, the European Commission has said.

Some 665 MEPs voted in favour of the deal.

Bill shock

Image source, Getty Images

The aim of the ban, in part, is to prevent consumers being caught out by huge bills when downloading films or other data during their European holidays.

There have been a number of cases when mobile users have been landed with bills for hundreds of euros or pounds.

From 15 June 2017, users within the EU will be charged the same as they would in their home country.

Critics of the ban suggest the loss of revenue for mobile phone companies could push up prices in general, including prices for non-travellers.

There have been lengthy negotiations between EU officials and the mobile phone operators over the plans, which are also tied into proposals affecting how internet traffic is managed.

Yet there has been some opposition to the move in the European Parliament, partly for political reasons after the UK government used the proposals as evidence for supporting EU membership.

This was the final vote on the matter, as the majority of member states have already provisionally agreed to the plan.

Related Internet Links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.