By Roland Moore-Colyer
Mobile operators could be forced by the European Commission to offer their customers 90 days of free roaming each year, if its draft plans on mobile roaming are put into action.
Following lengthy negotiations with mobile telecom firms, in 2015 the Commission decided that roaming fees across EU member nations would be abolished from June 2017.
To outline how the removal of roaming charges will be implemented, the Commission made its draft regulation public, which details a fair use policy whereby people wanting to use their mobile service outside of its native country will have at least 90 days to use their phone at their domestic contract rate.
However, they will only able to take advantage of this for 30 consecutive days before roaming charges are reapplied, as the draft regulation noted that those who make use of their mobile service abroad over that time limit “cannot be considered to be engaged in anomalous, permanent roaming”.
Effectively, the Commission is putting a fair use cap on the removal of roaming charges so mobile operators are not left too out of pocket by the changes. And it prevents savvy people from exploiting the regulation by getting their mobile contract in the cheapest EU nation and then using it permanently in a member state with more expensive tariffs.
All this is good news for people who regularly enjoy the EU’s freedom of movement, but get stung by the high cost of using their mobile outside their home nation.
However, Britain’s vote to leave the EU, providing it does come into effect, will mean UK operators will not have to abide by the Commission’ss ruling.
As such, people with contracts from mobile carriers serving Britain will likely be subject to roaming charges and find a quick trip over the channel to France more expensive than they were expecting if they plan to use their mobile.
This raises yet another concern over the impact the Brexit will have on the UK’s technology industry for both businesses and consumers. Concerns over the Brexit are so pertinent that Japan wrote an open letter to the British government with a list of requests that it wants addressed if the UK is to retain Japanese businesses.