Mobile roaming charges in EU slashed ahead of full ban


Man on a mobile phone

Using your mobile phone within the EU will become a whole lot cheaper from Saturday.

Getting back from holiday only to discover a monumental phone bill should soon be a thing of the past with a new cap set to make mobile roaming charges 75% cheaper, the European Commission has said.

That will take effect from Saturday and there's even better news on the horizon with a full ban set to come into effect next year.

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So what are the charges until then?

From Saturday operators will only be able to charge a small additional amount to domestic prices of up to 0.05 euro (3p) per minute of calls made, 0.02 euro (1p) per SMS sent, and 0.05 euro (3p) per MB of data, excluding VAT.

The charges will end altogether on June 15 next year, meaning mobile phone users will pay the same price to make calls, send text messages and use data wherever they are in the EU, as if they were at home.

The new rules aim to prevent consumers receiving those huge bills after downloading films or other data while travelling in Europe.

European Commission vice president Andrus Ansip, responsible for the Digital Single Market, said the move was "not only about money, this is about bringing down barriers in the Digital Single Market".

Commissioner Gunther H Oettinger, in charge of the Digital Economy and Society, said the agreement showed that the European Union could deliver tangible results to improve the daily life of Europeans, adding that "roaming charges will be soon old memories".

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Consumers have been especially vulnerable to roaming charges since the smartphone market exploded and mobile data consumption soared.

So-called "bill shock" from holidaying in the EU affects more than nine million UK mobile users a year, according to research by comparison website uSwitch.