European Union guarantees free roaming until 2032

Deepak Gupta July 1, 2022
Updated 2022/07/01 at 11:00 AM

In 2017, in the European Union, it was defined that in the 27 member states, citizens would be able to benefit from free roaming, maintaining their national tariffs for making calls, SMS and data, in whatever country they were.

This measure was included in the Roaming Regulation which expired yesterday. But as already announced, free roaming will be extended until 2032.

In November 2019, the Commission published an in-depth analysis of the roaming market, which showed that travelers across the EU have benefited significantly from the end of roaming charges, hence the need to extend this benefit for a longer period of time.

The analysis showed that, without a continuation of the existing framework, the conditions of the mobile telecommunications market would still not ensure economically sustainable "home roaming" for operators offering services to all people traveling in the EU.

The Commission also carried out, between June and September 2020, a public consultation to collect views on roaming services at retail and wholesale level, as well as on the impact of extending and revising these rules.

The benefit of this measure will be, for another 10 years, all citizens who, in addition to guaranteeing the use of the service in any of the Member States as if they were at home, still have more information available about possible additional fees. Operators will thus also have a more economically sustainable solution and even companies will continue to benefit from better connectivity in the single market to boost their business.

Free roaming for another 10 years in the EU

As can be read in the new regulation that comes into force today, some changes are introduced, even so, compared to the previous regulation that already guaranteed free roaming to citizens.

Firstly, consumers will be able to access the same services in another EU country as they enjoyed in their own country, provided that the same networks and technologies are available on the network of the Member State visited. A roaming customer enjoying 5G services in their country must also enjoy 5G roaming services whenever this technology is available in the visited Member State.

European Union guarantees free roaming until 2032

Second, consumers will receive more accurate information about the types of services that may incur additional costs, such as calls to customer service, helpdesks or insurance companies. These types of calls may be free or less expensive when made within the country, but may be subject to additional charges when made while roaming.

Additional rate information will be more effective

In addition, consumers will be informed by SMS about the additional charges applicable to the use of roaming services on so-called non-terrestrial networks.

These networks are generally used in the context of mobile connections on board aircraft and ships and are not covered by roaming rules. Roaming on these networks will often incur additional costs. When citizens travel by plane or boat, their mobile phones may unintentionally connect to a non-terrestrial network. Operators must also provide customers with tools to avoid additional costs, including not being able to connect to non-terrestrial networks.

Roaming services will, moreover, be automatically stopped when the consumer reaches a total cost of €50, or another pre-defined threshold, in order to avoid additional charges. The same applies to roaming outside the Union.

The role of operators

The new regulation also ensures that, at the wholesale level, operators inform each other about how to ensure access to emergency services and the transmission of the location of the person making the call, not only in relation to calls to '112' , but also for alternative means of access.

When roaming customers enter a Member State, they receive a message with information about 112 calls and other available means of contacting emergency services, eg apps or real-time text.

Operators must ensure that end-users with disabilities are made aware of the emergency services they can use. Roaming customers will be informed through national public alert applications whenever these services are available.

You can find more detailed information about the new regulation here.

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