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Europe agrees to regulate wholesale roaming charges

EU roaming charges for those who use their mobiles abroad are set to end after a deal was struck in the European Parliament.

The capping of the wholesale charges paid to each other by telecoms operators is one of the final pieces of legislation aimed at ending roaming fees, allowing businessmen and holidaymakers to use their phones outside of the UK at no additional cost.

The deal will outline the amount that telecoms operators have to pay to use other companies’ networks, although it must be rubber-stamped by the European Parliament and its 28 member states before it passes into law.

The current situation

At the moment, those who go abroad are subject to roaming charges when they connect to an overseas operator. These charges are placed on top of the cost of making a call or sending a message.

As far as telecoms operators are concerned, the new caps must be high enough for them to recover their costs, but low enough for them to offer consumers fee-free roaming and keep domestic prices at the same level.

There also needs to be enough money left in the system for networks to be maintained and upgraded.

‘Citizens will be able to make calls, send texts, surf and stay connected’

“This decision is the final step in a process that started 10 years ago,” said Dr Emmanuel Mallia, the Maltese Minister for Competitiveness and Digital, Maritime and Services Economy.

“From next summer, wherever they are travelling in Europe, citizens will be able to make calls, send texts, surf and stay connected. Roam like at home is now a reality.”

As per the new agreement, wholesale charges for data are set to drop to £6.60 per GB on 15th June – a large fall from the current cap of £43 per GB.

The cost will then drop further each year until January 2022, when it becomes £2 per GB. The cost of calls and text messages will also fall more in line with the charges levied at home, with charges subject to review every two years. If necessary, new caps will be imposed after these reviews.

Mr Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, said: “This was the last piece of the puzzle. As of 15 June, Europeans will be able to travel in the EU without roaming charges. We have also made sure that operators can continue competing to provide the most attractive offers to their home markets.”

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