As the ban gets closer and closer, we are almost half way through the 14-month interim period. During this interim period, companies are still allowed to add surcharges, but at a reduced rate. The European Commission reckons this alone will make roaming within the EU 75% cheaper than at present.
From April 2016, telecoms operators will be able to add a surcharge of no more than:
€0.05 (3.5p)extra per minute for calls
€0.02 (2p)extra per SMS sent
€0.05 (3.5p)extra per megabyte of data used
Here at Equinox we believe this will be a good thing but it still does leave a number of questions unanswered:
1. What will happen to roaming charges elsewhere?
The EU has forced mobile companies to cut roaming costs before. When they did, many customers saw an increase in roaming costs for other parts of the world.
2. Why is it taking so long?
The EU has taken a clear stand on this issue. Roaming costs are to be abolished. So, why do we have to wait two years for it to happen? Sure, costs will drop in the interim. But 24 months is still quite a wait.
3. What happens to people mid-way through a contract?
Many mobile contracts include data roaming bundles, usually sold to customers on the basis that they’re cheaper than standard roaming costs. Will the operators reduce the price for customers with these packages?
4. What about making calls?
While the elimination of data roaming costs is certainly to be welcomed, what about the cost of making and receiving calls? If the principle applies to these too, shouldn’t roaming costs for voice calls be abolished?
Finally, with the UK’s planned EU referendum as a backdrop for these changes, what will happen if the UK decides to leave the EU? Could we end up with new roaming charges, just as the rules abolishing them come into force?