New Roaming Rules for Travelers in the EU

New Roaming Rules for Travelers in the EU

Foto: Fotolia

The new and improved EU roaming regulation entered into force. It extends “Roam-like-at-home” until 2032, the scheme thanks to which travelers in the EU and the EEA can call, text, and surf abroad without extra charges.

The new rules will also bring about significant benefits for EU businesses and citizens, who will enjoy a better roaming experience, with the same quality of mobile service abroad as they have at home. The new rules also improve access to emergency communications across the EU and guarantee clear information about services that may be subject to extra charges.

“With our roaming regulation, we have all benefitted from Roam-like-at-home. We can call, text, and use the Internet without extra costs when we travel in the EU. This is a very tangible benefit of our European Single Market. Prolonging these rules will keep inter-operator prices competitive, and allow consumers to continue enjoying free-of-charge roaming services for the next ten years,” said Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President for a Europe Fit for the Digital Age.

Consumers now will have the right to the same quality of mobile internet abroad, like the one they have at home. Operators providing mobile services should ensure that consumers have access to use 4G, or the more advanced 5G, networks, if these are available at the destination the consumer is visiting. Consumers should be able to find information about network availability in their mobile service contracts and on the operators' websites.

When consumers travel by plane or on boats, mobile phones may automatically connect to the onboard network, provided by satellites. Using mobile connection services provided by non-terrestrial networks may be subject to very high surcharges. The new roaming rules oblige operators to protect their consumers and notify them if their phones switch to a non-terrestrial network. Additionally, operators should automatically interrupt mobile services if the mobile services over non-terrestrial networks reach charges of €50 or another predefined limit. Operators may also offer additional services, such as the possibility to opt out of roaming on planes and boats.

Consumers should be able to make informed decisions about using services that may subject them to additional costs. When traveling abroad, calling customer service, insurance and airline helpdesks, or SMS texting to participate in contests or events, may be more expensive than it costs at home. Operators have to make sure to provide consumers with information about the types of phone numbers that may carry additional costs when consumers dial or access them from abroad. Operators should inform consumers via automatic SMS messages sent when crossing the border to another EU country, as well as in the service contracts.

The new roaming rules are ensuring that citizens are aware of the single EU emergency number 112, which they can use anywhere in the EU to reach emergency services. By June 2023, operators should send automatic messages to their customers who travel abroad to inform them about the available alternative means of reaching emergency services, such as through real-time text or apps. Those citizens who are not able to make voice calls may use these alternative means.

The new roaming regulation sets lower wholesale charges, the cost to operators for using networks abroad to provide services to their customers when they are 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.

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