With the abolition of EU roaming charges coming into play tomorrow, here are the 3 things you need to be aware of to avoid getting caught out by inordinate hidden charges
1. Phone calls and texts will not have applied roaming charges, but data is another story
Although the tagline of these new roaming laws is ‘Roam like at Home’, it’s not quite as straightforward as it seems. Yes, roaming charges on all voice calls, incoming and outgoing, will be abolished, as will roaming charges on outgoing and incoming text SMS messages. But the most sought-after part of many peoples’ phone plans is data, and here is where things get complicated. Each customer’s data allowance will be decided based on the price of their current monthly bill. Once the customer’s monthly allowance has been used up, the rates they will pay per GB of data outside of this can be up to €10 (as stated by the EU).
Adrian Weckler of the Irish Independent has provided a good general rule for figuring out how much your data roaming allowance is in his article and it looks something like this:
So, with this in mind, the example he gives is that:
‘you pay €20 per month. The ex-Vat price of that is €16.25. So divide €16.25 by 7.7 and you get 2.1. Now multiply it by two to get your EU data allowance – 4.2GB’
This is solely focusing on Bill Pay contracts. Pay As You Go customers have been left almost in the dark, with the only information out there being that PAYG customers may incur higher roaming fees. The EU has stated that the inter-operator charges upon which monthly roaming allowances are based will decrease per annum so in the future, we can expect higher monthly data allowances based on a customer’s monthly bill. But keep in mind, roaming fees will still exist where you go above your monthly allowance.
2. Check any changes to your current contract, if you are on one.
All roaming charges and additional charges when you are abroad will relate back to your monthly plan with your specific network ‘your data roaming allowance will be decided in relation to this. With only a few hours to go until the new law comes into play, your network should have let you know how the new roaming rules will affect your contract. But on the off-chance that they haven’t done so, be sure to get in touch with them about any queries that you may have, particularly before you travel. They will best know how you will be billed and what your particular data roaming allowance will be.
3. Domestic network rates may increase due to the removal of roaming charges
Although there is an apparent ‘opt-out’ clause for network operators who can prove that they are losing money due to the new laws, operators may now be forced to raise the costs of their current domestic contracts. Due to the loss of revenue, networks are limiting data, meaning users will have to strictly monitor their roaming allowance and potentially have their current contracts increased. Is it fair to say that because of this, customers may not really be saving anything but costs are just being shifted from one place to another?
When it comes to the removal of EU Roaming charges taking place on the 15th of June 2017, the most important thing of all is for customers to be vigilant:
- Check with your network operator for any changes to your current contract
- Phone calls and texts will cost the same as they would ‘at home’, but data will not
- It’s important to calculate your data roaming allowance before you travel
- PAYG data roaming information is proving to be the most elusive of all – so it’s vital to keep your ear to the ground where this is concerned
- These roaming charges only apply to EU countries. Make sure you verify that the country you are travelling to is covered by these rules.
- Always make sure to check the fine print! The current information in circulation about the new data roaming laws is vague, so be sure to keep up with new information as it is released
Understanding the terms
Data allowance – Each network offers various packages/bundles of gigabytes (GB). Every time you access the internet you use data. For example, 1-3GB each month will give you up to 30 hours to surf the web and enough data to download nearly 100 songs.
Inter-operator charges – Inter-operator charges are interconnection fees paid by one network to another overseas network