Good news for holiday-makers planning a trip in the EU – as of next year you should be able to use your mobile for calls, texts and internet for the same cost as on home soil. The end of mobile roaming charges could come into effect as early as July 2014.
EU commissioners have voted to fast track major reforms of telecoms regulations covering mobile roaming charges across the EU.
While details of the reforms are still being thrashed out the commissioners have committed to pushing changes through in time for the European elections in May next year.
No more mobile roaming charges bill shock
It’s believed the the European Commission would like to see more consolidation of mobile companies across the EU to encourage more large scale investment in mobile infrastructure.
With no difference between charges at home or abroad in the EU, this could lead to more foreign operators competing for UK customers.
Responding to the proposals to end mobile roaming charges, Richard Lloyd, Which? executive director said:
‘Scrapping EU mobile roaming charges will be a huge win for millions of travellers, especially those who have faced expensive charges for data roaming when their mobile hasn’t even left their suitcase. This would put an end to uncertainty about using mobiles abroad and cut bill shocks off at source.’
‘Plans to increase competition and choice in this market could also lower mobile bills and improve services for consumers, However, the Commission must ensure that the industry plays fair and doesn’t hike other charges to compensate.’
Don’t get caught out
In the meantime if you are off on holiday abroad or if you’re heading further afield than the EU, follow these simple steps to avoid a high bill when you get home.
1) Turn off data roaming found under your phone settings.
2) Get a local pay-as-you-go Sim card. This means you will be charged local rates for data downloads and local calls and texts.
3) Use wi-fi hotspots – wi-fi is often available for free in hotels, restaurants or cafes. This will also enable you to use free messaging services.
4) Know your tariff – sending a picture message on some networks is cheaper than sending a standard text message.
5) Query charges – it is always worth querying an unexpected charge from your mobile phone provider upon your return, as it could be a genuine mistake.