Going abroad? EU rules keep down the cost of using your mobile phone and smart device. When you travel to a foreign country with your mobile phone, you are roaming- your mobile phone company and one in the foreign country work together to keep you connected, so you can make and receive mobile phone calls, write text messages, surf the Web and download content. However, are you aware of what your mobile phone provider will charge you for using your mobile phone while out of Greece?
94% of Europeans who travel outside their home country limit their use of services like Facebook, because of mobile roaming charges, according to a new survey of 28,000 EU citizens that was published on 2014. The European Commission calculates that telecoms companies are missing out on a market of around 300 million phone users because of current pricing strategies, with negative effects for other businesses such as app makers. At the same time as booming use of mobile at home, especially use of mobile data, other effects of roaming premiums include:
- 47% would never use mobile internet in another EU country.
- Only 1 out of 10 would use e-mails in the same way as at home
- More than a quarter of us simply switch off our mobiles when we travel in the EU
- Millions divert to SMS rather than pay for calls
In order to protect consumers within the EU and to avoid a “bill shock” after using a mobile phone abroad, the EU introduced the “Eurotariff” via Roaming Regulations in order to cap maximum prices for phone calls. In fact, weak competition among national operators for roaming customers has, at times, led to excessive prices for these services.
Thanks to the Roaming Regulations introduced since 2007 , a limit has been placed on the amount you can be charged for using your mobile phone for voice calls in Europe. This means it is now cheaper to call home when you’re on holiday or away on business than before. The cost of making and receiving calls when abroad in the EU is now substantially cheaper -about 80-90%, than in 2007 when the EU first started to tackle roaming charges. The European legislation has been reviewed and reformed since then.
A ‘Eurotariff’ is available from the Roaming Regulations, and these Regulations provide that mobile roaming per call (excluding VAT) should not exceed €0.19 for an outgoing phone call and €0.05 for an incoming one.
Prices for downloading data while abroad have also come down and consumers now have some protection from ‘bill shock’ in data roaming services. For data roaming services such as browsing the internet or downloading music, consumers now pay 20 cents to download 1 Megabyte while abroad.
To send a text message (SMS) from abroad costs 6 cents. Receiving an SMS in another EU or 3 European Economic Area countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) is free of charge.
The results on roaming tariffs reductions are impressive. The EU has achieved retail price reductions across calls, SMS and data of over 80% since 2007; Data roaming is now up to 91% cheaper compared to 2007; Since 2007, the volume of the data roaming market has grown by 630%.
The maximum tariffs (excluding VAT) for calls, texts and downloading data are:
|1 July 2012||1 July 2013||1 July 2014|
|Outgoing voice calls (per minute)||0,29 €||0,24 €||0,19 €|
|Incoming voice calls (per minute)||0,08 €||0,07 €||0,05 €|
|Outgoing texts (per SMS message)||0,09 €||0,08 €||0,06 €|
|Online (data download, per MB) (the tariff is per Megabyte to download data or browse the Internet whilst travelling abroad (charged per Kilobyte used))||0,70 €||0,45 €||0,20 €|
These maximum prices apply to all mobile phone users abroad, unless they opt for special packages offered by mobile phone operators.
Operators are free to offer cheaper rates, and some have already begun to remove roaming premiums altogether for voice and text, or offer a roaming-free area across some parts of Europe.
Operators have to send users a warning when they reach 80% of their data-roaming bill limit. Moreover, according to the EU Roaming Regulation, mobile operators must offer to consumers a maximum cut off limit for data roaming in order to avoid high roaming charges in case the use of data roaming exceeds the limit (i.e. 50 euro).
Member States’ national telecoms regulators must ensure that mobile phone operators comply with the new rules on data roaming and the lower prices of voice calls. Consumers can contact the national regulator in the Member State where their mobile operator is based if they have any problems or questions about the new limits.
Every complaint must be addressed to your home operator, and every phone company operating within the EU must guarantee the access to ADR bodies or ECC Network for the settlement of cross border disputes.
For more information see also the Digital Agenda for Europe on the homepage of the EU Commission.
Roaming in Europe, cheaper and cheaper
Europe’s Emergency Number 112
Regardless in which European country you are, in case of an emergency you can always dial 112 to reach police, fire brigade or an ambulance. When calling the number, you will be forwarded to the particular service in your region. In case you call from a mobile phone, sometimes also your location can be detected.
The number is toll free in every of the 28 EU member states from both mobile phones and landlines. Even if you are using a foreign mobile phone with roaming, calling 112 remains free.