The cost of using your phone abroad is about to fall dramatically
Running up huge mobile phone bills after using your phone when abroad could soon be a thing of the past following a landmark decision from the European Parliament.
The extra roaming charges, which often affect those using their mobile phones or tablets whilst holidaying in the European Union to make calls, send texts and surf the web, moved a step closer to being removed later this year.
However the ruling may not be such good news for British holidaymakers, who may miss out on the benefits due to the Brexit decision.
Making calls, sending texts and going online will all be cheaper under the new rules
The news was announced after a provisional deal was reached in the European Parliament today.
Under the terms, charges for using a mobile phone abroad will be capped, meaning users will no longer risk running up huge bills when logging on outside of their home country.
From June 15th 2017, charges will be limited to 7.7 euros (£6.60) per GB of mobile data used, down from the current cap of 50 euros (£43).
The price will then drop again on January 1st each year until 2022, by which time the charge will cost just 2.5 euros (£2) per GB.
The cost of making a call will also fall from 0.05 euros (4p) per minute to 0.032 euros (3p)
Sending a text message will also become cheaper, coming down from 0.02 euros (2p) to 0.01 euros (1p) per message.
Both of these changes will also come in to force on June 15th.
"This decision is the final step in a process that started 10 years ago," Dr Emmanuel Mallia, the Maltese Minister for Competitiveness and Digital, Maritime and Services Economy, told the BBC.
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"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."
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Countries that are in the European Union
The full European Parliament and EU member states still need to confirm the deal before it can become law, however the move has been long called-for across the continent.
However British users may not have long to benefit from the new charges, due to the UK’s decision to leave the European Union last year.
The drop in charges will only apply when visiting countries that are currently in the European Union.
That means that as soon as Britain leaves the EU, the cost of using mobile devices will again be dependent on individual countries, and the operators for each nation.
The headquarters of the European Commission, the Berlaymont builiding in Brussels
Several UK networks already offer specific tariffs to protect their customers being stung by extra costs when abroad, including Three’s Feel At Home contract.
However recent research from uSwitch found that more than one in ten of customers who’ve been outside the EU in the past year have received a higher than normal bill – averaging £103.
“What this underlines is that mobile users using handsets abroad should always check their network's roaming charges for their destination country before they travel – and see if there's a bundle or add-on that could limit the cost,” noted uSwitch’s Ernest Doku.