No more roaming charges for Orange customers

Pair of hands using large-screen smartphone
Calls and internet use will be free across Europe for Orange and Sosh customers from Thursday

Telecoms giant gives an early start to European Union order ending high travel phone bills

French Orange and Sosh mobile customers will pay no more roaming bills from this Thursday, May 18 – as the telecoms giant steals a march on rivals.

Free roaming comes in across the European Union from June 15 but Orange has said its customers, and those of low-cost subsidiary Sosh where prices begin at €1.99, will get an early start.

No similar deal has been announced for Orange customers in the UK.

Customers do not need to do anything – no buttons to press, no forms to fill in – as Orange will make the changeover automatically and at no cost.

They will be able to use their full ‘forfait’ in all 28 EU countries plus Norway, Lichtenstein, Iceland, Switzerland and Andorra and usage will be just like in France, up to and including 4G. It will apply to both monthly contracts and pay-as-you-go.

Low-cost rival Free Mobile has been offering free European roaming since March and before then customers benefited from 35 days European use a year before costs were imposed. Its free roaming also applies to the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Israel.

SFR’s budget mobile subsidiary, Red, followed Free in March by offering a new €15 a month ‘roaming inclus’ contract that includes calls and texts across Europe, Switzerland, US and Canada along with 15Gb of internet.

Safeguards have been built in to stop abuse – buying a low-cost contract in one country such as Latvia where costs are six times cheaper and using it elsewhere. Telecoms companies will be able to charge customers who are “permanently” roaming.

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Until the European Union stepped in, mobile customers were charged up to €5 a minute for calls, €2 for texts and €5/Mb for internet data but the move to end roaming charges has taken 10 years.

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