You may have received a text message or email yesterday from your mobile operator, notifying you of new EU regulations which cap the cost of roaming fees within Europe. From 15 May, the cost for phone calls via landline and mobile phone or SMS made from one of European Union member states to another are to be capped at 19 cents per minute and 6 cents per SMS (+VAT). Operators will now offer price caps for such international calls and SMS by default.
The bigger picture. These new regulations are part of the European Commission’s plan to overhaul existing telecoms rules, and follow the prohibition of roaming charges across the EU in June 2017. Amongst other things, the new telecoms rules aim to enhance the deployment of 5G networks, facilitate the roll-out of new, very high capacity fixed networks, and benefit and protect consumers. The new telecoms regime also strengthens coordination of electronic communications and enhances the role of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC).
Will Brexit impact these rules? For the time being, this cap applies to the United Kingdom, together with the other 27 current members of the European Union. Regulator Ofcom says if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, these rules will no longer apply: in such a scenario, the government advises that you check your mobile operator’s roaming policies before you go abroad. For calls and SMS originating in Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, the rules will be applicable as soon as it is incorporated in the European Economic Area agreement.
Do the rules apply to all phone calls and SMS? The maximum price is capped only for personal usage by private consumers. Business customers are excluded from the price regulation, with the Commission’s reasoning being that many providers already have special offers for business customers.
The European Commission’s press release can be found here.