From July 15, 2017, roaming charges have been scrapped off across the European Union (EU). This means you will enjoy free roaming across all the 28 countries of EU if you have a domestic SIM card of any of them. For example, if you reside in Italy and travel to the United Kingdom, you can continue using your existing cellular plan without any extra cost.
While this is fantastic for the Europeans, International travelers shall get benefitted too. You can just buy a SIM at any of the 28 EU countries and continue using it throughout your Europe tour. The zero cost roaming will not only make your vacation a bit affordable but also save you from a lot of hassles.
However, like most other consumer laws, the “Roam like Home” too comes with its own set of terms and conditions. In fact, this free roaming thing is not as simple as its sounds. There are some stringent rules and regulations included to safeguard the interests of telecom operators and their subscribers. These would prevent the misuse of the European Commission’s latest initiative.
In this article, we will tell you about all the conditions and limitations of the new European roaming policy. It is worth noting that the “Roam like Home” is a very well thought of and meticulously calculated plan. The European Commission have been working on it for more than two years in association with the cellular service providers. Keep reading to know the details of one of the most revolutionary programs in the telecom industry.
Is roaming completely free in Europe after 15th June 2017?
The answer is yes and no at the same time. Almost 90 percent of the European travelers will enjoy free roaming. Around 10 percent might need to pay additional roaming charges if they do not fulfill certain conditions.
I am an international traveler. Will I be eligible for free roaming?
Yes. You should be eligible for free roaming across the European Union. However, you must buy a local SIM card from any of the 28 EU countries. If you use a SIM which originates outside the EU, you will need to pay roaming surcharges.
Will the free roaming be valid all across Europe?
No. Free roaming is only valid in the 28 countries who are members of the European Union, namely, Austria, Italy, Belgium, Latvia, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Croatia, Luxembourg, Cyprus, Malta, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Denmark, Poland, Estonia, Portugal, Finland, Romania, France, Slovakia, Germany, Slovenia, Greece, Spain, Hungary, Sweden, Ireland, and United Kingdom.
Does this mark end of roaming fees in the EU?
No. Roaming fees will continue to exist. You must meet some conditions in order to enjoy free roaming across Europe. If you fail any one of them, your telecom operator can charge you additional roaming charges. However, there is a certain limit to it.
What are the requirements to get free roaming across Europe?
Firstly, you must own a SIM card of any of the 28 countries belonging to the European Union. Secondly, you cannot enjoy free roaming for more than 4 months a year. Lastly, you should preferably use your primary (most used) SIM card for roaming purposes.
Can I get blacklisted from availing free roaming?
Yes, you very much can. Telecom companies are allowed to record your usage pattern. If they find any suspicious activity or anomalous traffic pattern, they can stop facilitating free roaming for you. The European Commission has set some transparent indicators of abusive usage which may temporarily restrict you from enjoying free roaming. Those are:
- Roaming for more than four months in a single year
- Roaming usage exceeds domestic usage
- Long inactive SIM card used mostly for roaming purposes
- Sequential or fraudulent usage of multiple SIM cards by the same individual while roaming
How much data can I use while roaming free?
This is a bit complicated. The European Commission has predetermined a universal data tariff for roaming across the EU. Your maximum data allowance will be the same as the universal rate or your domestic plan, whichever is lower. You can estimate the former with this calculator. That said, your free internet limit will never exceed that of your home packages.
Do note that if you are on a monthly plan (postpaid or prepaid), you will get almost double data volume than benefit-based prepaid plans (pay per minute / SMS / MB). For example, according to the Commission’s predetermined tariff, you will get around 2 GB of the internet for EUR 10 if you are subscribed to a monthly plan, whereas, you shall get only 1 GB if it is a short-term prepaid pack.
How many minutes of calling and SMS can I do while roaming free?
There will be no limit to the number of minutes of calling and SMS while you roam for free. However, if your roaming duration exceeds 4 months a year, additional fees will be applicable.
What will happen if I exceed my monthly data allowance?
If you use up all of your monthly Internet volumes, the telecom companies may charge you a nominal roaming fee.
What are the new roaming surcharges beyond the “Roam for Free” allowance?
If you exhaust all of your stipulated balance or the fail any of the requisites of “Roam for Free”, you may need to pay additional roaming charges. The new rates are:
- Up to EUR 7.7 per GB of data (Will be reduced to EUR 6 for 2018, EUR 4.50 for 2019, EUR 3.50 for 2020, EUR 3 for 2021, and EUR 2.50 for 2022)
- Up to EUR 0.032 per minute of voice calling
- Up to EUR 0.01 for each SMS
Will the free roaming increase the domestic tariffs?
No. As per the latest Roaming Regulation, the telecom companies won’t be able to raise domestic prices on the pretext of offering free roaming.
Does the free roaming applicable on calls to EU countries from non-EU countries like USA, India, and China?
Absolutely not. This is not considered roaming on the respect to the EU SIM card. So, you will still need to pay roaming charges while calling your European friends from other continents.
The step to make roaming free across the Europe certainly needs an applause. We personally feel that the roaming surcharges should gradually be discarded worldwide with a standardized rate. However, as of now, it seems to be an impossible thing. Let’s see what the future has to offer.
In this article, we have tried to cover as much information as possible about the “Roam for Free” initiative. Still, if you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comment section below.