Roaming charges – a couple of dirty words that have caused huge wireless bills for some users that travel a lot. The U.S. is slowly working on lowering or eliminating roaming charges that have typically become a 'cash cow' for the carriers – but what choice does a user have if they have to travel. This happens a lot in the European Union's 28 member states where people normally travel on holiday (vacation) to other countries to visit friends and family…with Britons and other northern Europeans getting hit the hardest because they tend to holiday in southern member states. Thanks to efforts by the Vice President of the European Commission Neelie Kroes and her fight for an open internet, it looks like roaming costs will be cut up to one-half this summer starting July 1 and by December 2015, they could be eliminated altogether.
This eliminating roaming charges altogether by the European Commission is welcomed news by the many Europeans that travel across the continent on vacations, much as we Americans travel from state-to-state taking our vacations or visiting family or friends. There is nothing worse than coming home from a long vacation, only to find a huge mobile bill to greet you upon your return.
All of this may come back to bite the very consumers it was meant to help – after all, you do not simply take away a large source of revenue from the coalition of networks' 45 million customers and not expect it to be made up somewhere else. According to them:
"There is a risk that domestic tariffs for European consumers will increase. Roaming might not be subject to surcharges anymore, but the overall level of tariffs would increase, and non-roaming customers might effectively foot the bill for roaming customers."
Three Group's regulatory affairs director John Blakemore added:
"Effective wholesale regulation is key. Without it if customers from northern Europe go to southern Europe and use their smartphones they are going to incur very large wholesale charges, but the amount operators can recoup is going to be cut. That is unsustainable and at some point that could have an impact on the domestic prices operators have to charge their customers."
Consumers today want to have the freedom to take pictures while on vacation/holiday/travels and be able to share them via the social networks or Instagram them to friends and family without having to mortgage their house. Hopefully a good solution can be worked out that will make both the carriers and the users happy. Please hit us up on our Google+ Page and let us know what you think about the roaming charges – will you be taking advantage of the reduced rates in Europe this summer…as always, we would love to hear from you.