EU plan swaps roaming fees for roaming fudge

Without clear limits, users will have to justify their every move to network operators

The European Commission has reworked its plan to end mobile phone roaming fees in the face of widespread criticism of its 90-day annual limit.

It now plans to abolish all hard limits on roaming, but fudged the details by allowing carriers to block or charge for usage they consider abusive in order to prevent Irish consumers bankrupting Latvian mobile operators.

Under the new proposal, mobile subscribers will be able to roam across the European Union year around with no charge -- unless their carrier thinks their usage abusive. In that case, after alerting the subscriber the carrier will be able to levy roaming surcharges of €0.04 (US$0.04) per minute, €0.01 per text message or about €8.70 per gigabyte of data.

If subscribers want to dispute the charges, they would have to justify their roaming usage to the carrier, said European Commissioner for the Digital Economy Günther Oettinger. Disputes would be referred to the national telecommunications regulator.

Deciding what constitutes abusive usage is left in large part up to carriers, which will also be able to impose the same surcharges year-round if they can convince their regulator that providing free roaming puts their domestic charging model at risk.

The Commission outlined a number of situations it would consider abusive: if  subscribers' domestic traffic is insignificant compared to their roaming traffic, if their SIM card is used mostly while roaming, or if they have a number of SIM cards that they use in turn while roaming.

The bottom line, said Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip, is whether the subscriber is a resident of, or has stable links entailing frequent and substantial presence in, the SIM issuer's country.

In the case of the mass purchase of SIM cards in a country with low telecommunications charges, and their resale for permanent use in a country with higher charges, the Commission will allow carriers to take "immediate and proportionate measures" -- presumably including disconnecting the lines -- as long as they tell their national regulator.

Oettinger explained the dangers of such resale: "Prices in Latvia, for example, are 6.5 times lower than in Ireland. In commercial terms, a SIM card from Latvia could be operated in Ireland and an Irish person would telephone to Dublin at Latvian prices. So, the Latvian company on the Irish wholesale market would have to pay higher prices than it is earning in the market of the end consumer. In a few days it would become insolvent."

The Commission is sending its new plan to BEREC, the body of EU telecommunications regulators, for comment, and hopes to obtain approval from EU member states by year-end. If hopes to end roaming charges on June 15, 2017.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Peter Sayer

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?