The European Union’s new, improved roaming regulation entered into force on 1 July, under which travellers in the EU and the European Economic Area can call, text and surf abroad without extra charges. The new improved roaming rules, which extend ‘Roam-like-at-home’ until 2032, will also bring about significant benefits for EU businesses and citizens, who will enjoy a better roaming experience, with the same quality of mobile service abroad as they have at home. The new rules also improve access to emergency communications across the EU and guarantee clear information about services that may be subject to extra charges.
Consumers now will have the right to the same quality of mobile internet abroad, as the one they have at home. Operators providing mobile services should ensure that consumers have access to use 4G, or the more advanced 5G, networks, if these are available at the destination the consumer is visiting. Consumers should be able to find information about network availability in their mobile service contracts and on the operators’ websites.
When consumers travel by planes or on boats, mobile phones may automatically connect to the on-board network, provided by satellites. Using mobile connection services provided by non-terrestrial networks may be subject to very high surcharges. The new roaming rules oblige operators to protect their consumers and notify them if their phones switch to a non-terrestrial networks. Additionally, operators should automatically interrupt mobile services if the mobile services over non-terrestrial networks reach charges of €50 or another predefined limit. Operators may also offer additional services, such as the possibility to opt out from roaming on planes and boats.
Consumers should be able to make informed decisions about using services that may subject them to additional costs. The new roaming rules are ensuring that citizens are aware of the single EU emergency number 112, which they can use anywhere in the EU to reach emergency services. By June 2023, operators should send automatic messages to their customers who travel abroad to inform them about the available alternative means of reaching emergency services, such as through real time text or apps. Those citizens who are not able to make voice calls may use these alternative means.
The new Roaming regulation sets lower wholesale charges, the cost to operators for using networks abroad to provide services to their customers when they are abroad. Lower wholesale charges benefit consumers, as they should ensure that all operators are able to offer competitive roaming subscriptions in line with the ‘Roam like at home’ principle.
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