New EU Law To Scrap Roaming Charges With A Catch

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On Monday, European Drafting Commission published a draft of an initiative called "Roaming Fair Use Policy" which means that the EU is seemingly coming good on the 2015 promise to ban roaming charges by 2017. According to the published document, as of June 2017, all phone calls, SMS messages, and Internet usage abroad will be free of roaming charges for EU citizens on the territory of the European Union. Naturally, there's a catch to this upcoming law – free roaming won't be unlimited.

Namely, the European Commission plans to order carriers to allow free roaming to their customers for up to 90 days per year and no longer than 30 days at a time. The Commission decided on this clause in order to minimize the chances of citizens abusing the new law and simply purchasing cheaper SIM cards abroad in order to use them in their home countries. Regulators explained that these time frames will only count as long as users don't log onto their home networks for over 24 hours. So, one could be roaming for 30 days with no extra charges, return to his or her home country for a day, and then travel abroad again and enjoy 30 more days of free roaming.

The Roaming fair use policy will also differentiate between travelers and semi-permanent foreign residents as the latter will likely be forced to buy local SIM cards while staying in another EU country. Other than that, the upcoming law will also further cap roaming charges which were already significantly cut this April. As of June 2017, even consumers who exceed their free roaming limits will pay no more than €0.04 cents per call minute, €0.01 per SMS, and €0.85 per MB of data usage. Apart from the call minute cap, these are all significant restrictions in comparison to those imposed on carriers last April.

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Naturally, the upcoming law only imposes upper limits for roaming charges so it's likely that operators will soon start offering even better deals in order to stay competitive on the market. The proposal is expected to be adopted on December 15th though all EU carriers will have a chance to comment on it in the meantime. Not unexpectedly, most Europeans are more than pleased with the upcoming changes given how even some American carriers have already started scrapping roaming charges in Europe so many believe it was high time Europe follows suit.