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EU ban on mobile roaming charges will not include time limit

Wednesday, September 21st 2016 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

The ban on mobile roaming fees across the EU will not include a time limit, the European Commission has announced.

A new law banning the extra fees charged to travellers making calls, sending texts and using data abroad in the EU was approved by the European Parliament in October 2015 and comes into effect in June next year.

But a document published earlier this month suggested the ban would include what the commission called a “fair use policy”, which would allow mobile providers to charge roaming fees to customers using their phone abroad for more than 90 days.

That draft has since been withdrawn, with commission president Jean-Claude Juncker saying it “missed the point of what was promised” although it “was not technically wrong”.

Speaking at his 2016 State of the Union address, he said: “When you roam, it should be like at home.”

The commission has now said there should be no limits in terms of timing or volume imposed on consumers using their phones abroad in the EU.

It will, however, allow network operators to check usage patterns to avoid abuse of the ‘Roam like at Home’ system.

Operators will be looking out for long periods of inactivity on a SIM used for roaming and the use of multiple SIMs by the same customer.

Users found to be abusing the system are likely to face a “small surcharge” after being notified by their network provider.

'Low prices for users all across Europe'

There will be protection in place for frequent work commuters, expats returning to their home country and Erasmus students.

Andrus Ansip, vice-president for the Digital Single Market, said: “Parliament and Council agreed on our proposal to end roaming charges for travellers in the EU.

“Together we need to ensure low prices for users all across Europe, to make full use of new mobile services. European consumers would not accept it otherwise.”

Günther H Oettinger, commissioner for the digital economy and society, said: “Commission action on roaming prices has delivered for European consumers.

“Today’s draft rules ensure we can end roaming charges as of 15 June 2017 for all people who travel periodically in the EU, while ensuring that operators have the tools to guard against abuse of the rules.”

The final proposal is due to be adopted by 15 December 2016 following feedback from members states and regulators.

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