Praise be, there’s some good news on the financial front this morning.
Roaming charges for the use of mobile phones while overseas have been abolished as from today. Under the new European Union law (the Roam Like Home legislation), British mobile phone users can now make phone calls, send text messages and use data in other EU countries without incurring a further charge. The new rules mean that Britons will be subject to the same prices they pay at home.
However, it still won’t be possible to call local numbers when abroad for no charge. The new regulations apply to calling or texting other British mobile phones.
The European Commission said: ‘Each time a European citizen crossed an EU border, be it for holidays, work, studies or just for a day, they had to worry about using their mobile phones and a high phone bill from the roaming charges when they came home.’
The Commission added that it had been working hard over the past decade to fix this ‘market failure’.
There’s a caveat, though (isn’t there always?). Which? has warned that differences between providers when it comes to the details of tariffs could lead to unexpected costs for customers. For example, different providers include different countries in their roaming territories, such as the Channel Islands and Switzerland.
In addition, ‘fair use’ policies mean that those using high amounts of data may be charged extra. Monthly data allowances differ when using mobile internet in the UK, and each of the four UK operators have varying allowances.
Peter Earl, head of utilities at comparethemarket.com, said: ‘Today marks a welcome change for those travelling within the EU, who no longer have to worry about excessive charges to use their phones abroad. But don’t be lulled into a false sense of security. Different providers include different countries in their roaming territories, so data usage in some areas, including those outside the EU, could still be costly, so it’s important to check this before you go.
‘Whilst consumers must be wary that the introduction of the ‘Roam like Home’ legislation could be a false dawn in terms of their charges, the good news is that it does mean the playing field has been levelled. The knock-on impact should be that mobile phone operators will need to look at other ways to attract customers, such as offering “unlimited tariffs”, which could make communicating abroad even cheaper.’
Helen Nugent is Online Money Editor of The Spectator