Local Minister for Communications Denis Naughten TD has confirmed that an end to exorbitant mobile phone roaming charges in the EU is one step closer following a deal between the European Commission, Council and Parliament on the EU Wholesale Roaming Regulation. The agreement, which determines the maximum price at which EU mobile operators may buy and sell Voice, SMS and Data to each other, is the final piece of the puzzle which will allow for EU “Roam Like at Home” to start on 15 June 2017.
“Roam Like at Home” means that when travelling in the EU, all of us will be able to call, send text messages or surf the web on our mobiles for the same price we pay at home,” stated Denis Naughten. “Ireland has been fighting hard at the EU negotiating table to bring an end to roaming charges for people travelling in the EU. Today is a good day for Irish mobile phone users. The final barrier to securing a deal related to wholesale charges – the amount phone operators charge each other when their customers use their phones abroad – has been lifted. These charges have now been capped so an end to shock bills is a step closer and ‘roam like at home’ is on course to come into effect in just over five months on June 15th,” added Minister Naughten.
The European Parliament and the Council must now formally approve the agreement reached. The new wholesale roaming prices will become applicable on 15 June 2017, in time for operators to take all the necessary preparatory steps for the introduction of roam-like -at-home by then.
For a decade, the Commission has been working to reduce and ultimately end the surcharges that telecoms operators imposed on their customers each time they crossed a border while using their mobile device on holiday or during business trips. Since 2007, roaming prices have decreased by more than 90%. Prices fell for the final time in April 2016, to 5 cents per minute of voice call, 2 cents per SMS, and 5 cents per MB of data on top of national rates. In 2015, and based on a proposal of the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council agreed to end roaming charges for people travelling periodically in the EU. The Commission adopted technical measures needed to make this happen, including a fair use policy and sustainability mechanism in December 2016. In parallel, the Telecoms Single Market Regulation entrusted the Commission with the task of reviewing the wholesale roaming markets and making appropriate proposals before 15 June 2016, in order to enable the abolition of retail roaming charges from 15 June 2017.