The European Union has agreed to scrap roaming charges from June 15 following a vote in the European Parliament on Thursday.
MEPs backed a deal between operators and European Union member states that will stop holidaymakers being charged extortionate fees to use their phones and tablets abroad. Finnish MEP Miapetra Kumpula-Natri said the deal meant "Europeans would no longer be in a state of shock when they get their telephone bills."
From June 15, EU citizens won't be charged extra for calls, SMS messages or internet outside their home countries, when travelling in the EU. Wholesale prices for calls will be capped at 3.2 cents per minute, an SMS will be 1 cent and data will be capped at €7.7 per GB. That rate will gradually fall to €2.5 per GB by January 1, 2022. Operators will still have to pay a charge. The full details are here.
The wholesale cap, announced in February, was the final piece of the roaming puzzle that will enable people to move freely around the European Union without paying any extra to use their phone. Those on a mobile contract in an EU country will be able to use their available allowance of calls, texts and data as they would in their home country while pay-as-you-go customers will pay the same rate regardless of what EU country they are in.
But the UK could miss out on the benefits depending on what agreements are reached following its anticipated exit from the EU in 2019.
EU negotiators have been working to put an end to roaming charges for nearly a decade. Since 2007, prices have fallen by more than 90 per cent. Many operators in the UK have started to remove roaming charges in certain countries, with Three customers now able to use their allowance in 42 destinations. In May 2016, Vodafone followed suit and launched fee-free roaming in 40 destinations.
The deal on wholesale fees is intended to ensure operators can continue to compete fairly across the EU. Customers who exceed the limits of their contract or allowance while roaming will also not be charged any more than the wholesale caps. Reviews of the caps will be made by the end of 2019.