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EU Extends Free Mobile Roaming For Ten More Years

European Union EU Thijs ter Haar Flickr
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The European Union (EU) has extended the free mobile roaming legislation for ten more years. EU residents traveling within the European Economic Area (EEA), which includes 27 EU member states and Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway, will not have to bear roaming charges for mobile services until 2032. They will get the same call, text, and data benefits as on the home network for no additional charges.

This legislation was first introduced in 2017. The lawmakers named the initiative “roam like at home”. The initial regulation abolished roaming charges within EEA for five years. That five-year period ended on June 30, 2022. But the EU extended the legislation for another decade. The extension is effective July 1st, 2022, and will protect EU residents from roaming charges until June 2032.

Along with this expansion, the updated regulation also focuses on improved service quality. The regulatory body wants carriers to offer the same services to anyone roaming across the region as long as the same networks and technologies are available in the destination state. In other words, if a user has access to 5G on their home network, they should get 5G while roaming to other EEA countries where their carrier already offers 5G.

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Of course, the network speed may vary depending on various factors. The EU states that the new roaming rules “aim to ensure that when similar quality or speeds are available in the visited network, the domestic operator should ensure the same quality of the roaming service” (via). The rules also require carriers to inform their customers of the quality of services available in a country. They need to state this information in the roaming contract and also publish it on their website.

EU wants carriers to better support roaming customers

In addition to offering free roaming, the EU also wants carriers to better support their customers when on foreign land. For example, if a customer tries to use a service that isn’t covered under the free-roaming law, such as calling customer service numbers, help desks, or insurance companies, they should receive an SMS notifying them of potential charges rather than silently adding a few Euros to their monthly bill. The SMS should contain a link where customers can find detailed information.

Moreover, carriers are also required to notify customers about alternative options for emergency services in a country. The EU already has an emergency number that works across the region — 112. But if there are alternative means in a country, carriers have to make customers aware of those.

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To protect carriers from fraudulent use of free-roaming, the EU is letting them implement a “fair use” policy. This policy particularly addresses the concern of permanent roaming. If someone resides in one country but has subscribed to a phone plan from another country, be it for a cheaper fee or any other reason, the laws allow carriers to move them to a plan in the region they live in.