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Free roaming in EU until 2032

European Parliament and EU Member States reached a political agreement on the new Roaming Regulation. It will prolong until 2032 the existing system whereby citizens cannot be subject to extra charges for calls or data used while travelling within the EU and it will also bring about new advantages.

Citizens will be able to call, text and use mobile data while travelling within the EU at no extra costs and with the same quality they experience at home; they will have improved access to emergency communications regardless of where they are in Europe; and, they will have the right to clear information when a service they use while roaming might cause inadvertent extra charges. The regulation will enter into force on 1 July 2022.

The new Roaming Regulation

–Higher quality for consumers

Consumers will benefit from access to roaming services, while travelling, at the same quality as they are used to when at home. Consumers that usually have 5G services at home will also be able to enjoy 5G roaming services wherever available. If specific factors could impact the quality of the roaming experience, operators will be required to promptly inform their customers.

–Preventing unexpectedly high charges

While travelling abroad, citizens may need to call customer service numbers, helpdesks or insurance companies. While these services are generally free of charge or with limited charges when phoning from home, consumers are often faced with additional costs and bill shocks when dialling in from abroad. From now on, operators are obliged to adequately inform their customers about such extra charges when abroad, so that they can make informed choices about using such services.

Travellers may face surprising high bills when their phone connects to non-terrestrial networks, for example if they are on a plane or on a boat. The new regulation guarantees better information and an automatic interruption of such services when the bill reaches a cost of €50, or another predefined limit. Operators may offer additional services, such as the possibility to opt out from roaming on planes and boats.

–Better awareness and access to emergency communications

The new regulation ensures that citizens have enhanced access to emergency communications including caller location, free of charge. Operators will ensure that citizens are informed of the possibility to access emergency services through ‘112', the single European emergency number and other alternative means of access, such as via real-time-text or available apps, for people with disabilities.

–Ensuring sustainability for operators: lower wholesale caps

The new roaming regulation sets lower wholesale charges. These are costs charged by hosting mobile operators, in exchange for access to their respective networks, ensuring that visiting mobile operators and their clients benefit from roaming services abroad.

The wholesale caps are set at levels that ensure that operators can sustain and recover the cost of providing roaming services to consumers at domestic prices.

Lower wholesale charges benefit consumers, as they should ensure that all operators are able to offer competitive roaming subscriptions in line with the ‘Roam like at home' principle.

Source: European Commission