ROAMING charges for holidaymakers heading back to the UK could soon be a thing of the past, not just because of EU regulations but because telecoms companies see free roaming as an essential add-on for customers.
Free Mobile, the fourth largest French telecoms company, is extending its €19.99 contract to include free calls, texts and 3Gb of internet access across all of Europe. The ‘Pass Destination’ deal is limited to 35 days’ usage in each country.
Although it is not the first to do so, as Bouygues Telecom has been doing this since January, Free has dramatically cut the price of holiday smartphone use as the Bouygues deal costs €39.99 (cut to €36 at the moment and it includes 10Gb ).
The other main companies have similar pricey deals but allow their low-cost offshoots – such as Sosh for Orange and Red for Numericable-SFR – to offer 15 days’ roaming and 5Gb in their budget contracts at €25 for Sosh and €26 for Red.
The European Commission has already announced that roaming charges will cease from June 2017 but is also expected to bring in ‘fair usage’ restrictions to stop people buying cheap contracts in one country and unfairly piggy-backing on other countries’ networks.
However, SFR has warned that French telecoms operators face being penalised in the reforms as it is a premium holiday destination and visitors from other countries will get an unfair benefit of unfettered and unpaid-for access.
Today calls from EU countries are paid at 19 centimes a minute, taking a call is 5 centimes/minute and a text costs 6 centimes. Roaming downloads cost 20centimes/Mb.
From April next year they will be cut to 5 centimes/minute for calls, 2 centimes per text and 5 centimes (plus VAT)/Mb for internet.
Action by the European Union has reduced roaming charges by 80% overall since 2007.
Roaming charges scrapped from 2017
Roaming charges cut across EU