Roaming in 2017
Update: The proposal was withdrawn for the moment. This was a reaction by EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to the continuing criticism of the draft and promised a revision. However, this would not affect the time table and roaming would still be abolished in June 2017 (more information here).
From June 2017 on, there won't be any charges for roaming in the EU anymore. The Commission now presented a draft how this will work in detail. The "fair use policy" should prevent abusive or anomalous usage.
For a total of 90 days it will be possible to make calls and surf the net for the domestic tariff ("roam-like-at-home"). But: For a maximum of 30 consecutive days. After this limit, consumers have to log on their home network or pay roaming charges. According to the draft of the EU Commission, the costs would be 4 cent per minute, 1 cent per SMS, 0,85 cent per MB data volume. Providers are free to set no or longer time limits for their customers.
Those limits should meet the needs of regular travellers within the EU, according to the proposal. Longer stays abroad would indicate that the consumer's centre of vital interest has changed (e.g. he moved to another Member State).
The regulation for the abolition of roaming charges does not apply to such situations. Furthermore, consumers should not just pick the cheapest tariff available at any Member State as this would be bad for more expensive providers.
The draft proposes that a person who lives or works in a border region and crosses borders between two Member States on a daily basis should be excluded from the time limit. When a consumer logs on and off of his home net and a foreign net on the same day, this day should not be counted.
For travellers, this means that the first and last day of their vacation - when they cross borders - will not be counted as well.
The "fair use policy" should be implemented in the respective contracts of mobile providers and presented to consumers before the conclusion.
Providers cannot impose limits on the volumes and quality of mobile services available to their customers other than the domestic limit stated in their contract. The consumer has to be able to use the services as if he were at home. At the same time, the provider is not obliged to provide any additional services or volumes to the consumer when he is abroad.
Regarding pre-paid contracts where the consumer pays in advance for the mobile services, a special rule was proposed. The provider is allowed to require that a certain volume is consumed at home before the consumer is able to use mobile services for the domestic price at another Member State. According to the draft this should prevent resale of foreign pre-paid subscriptions.
The presented regulations are a draft by the EU Commission. It is not yet clear if it will be accepted and implemented in this form.
Since its publication, the draft has stirred criticism. It would ignore e.g. Erasmus students who move to another Member State for a semester and would protect the industry rather than consumers, says the European consumer association BEUC (article in Austrian newspaper Kurier).
ECC Austria will keep you informed about all new developments on this topic.