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Phones

Historic EU roaming changes are in effect, with surcharges eliminated across 28 countries

By Adrian Diaconescu June 15, 2017, 4:06 am

It’s literally been decades in the making, and although it seemed like a done deal as far back as 2015, it still took a while to get fully regulated, with the final piece of the puzzle falling into place a few months ago, and mobile carriers given just a bit more time to prepare today’s historic change.

Effective immediately, special EU roaming charges are out, which means travelers across the Union’s 28 member states no longer have to worry about “bill shocks.” Basically, your “national bundle” will cover phone calls, text messages and cellular data consumption anywhere from Austria to Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, France, Greece, Ireland, Malta, Poland, Spain, Sweden and so on without any sort of a surtax.

Even unlimited voice communication and SMS is supported all around the European Union, no questions asked, as long as you don’t “abuse” the new “Roam Like at Home” rules by staying abroad several months in a row.

If that happens, a “small” charge of no more than 3.2 cents per minute of voice call, 1 cent per SMS and €7.7 per GB of data usage may apply, the latter of which is set to gradually drop to a gigabyte ceiling of €6 in January 2018, €3 by 2021, and finally €2.5 at the beginning of 2022.

For unlimited mobile data or “very cheap mobile data at home”, a “safeguard (fair use) limit” could enter the equation while roaming, but only after allowing the “normal usage patterns of most travelers” and with proper advance notice.

Lastly, you should keep in mind that a “very small number of operators in the EU” have been granted permission to “continue applying a small roaming surcharge after 15 June, in order to avoid negative effects on very low domestic prices.”

Bottom line, it might be wise to contact your wireless service provider and check their specific terms, conditions and rates. But one thing’s for sure across the board – you’ll be paying a whole lot less than before to use your phone at full potential in 28 European countries, including the UK (for now), with Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway set to join the party very soon.

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