There was a time when the only occasion we’d have to worry about roaming charges across Europe was when we needed to keep track of our children while interrailing. Now companies, organisations and individuals need to be available 24 hours a day, regardless of where they are in the world.
In 2015, an agreement was reached between the European Parliament, the Council of ministers and the European Commission to end mobile phone roaming charges for those travelling throughout the EU. Coming to an end in the middle of this month, mobile users will now be able to call, text, email and surf the net without paying any extra charges.
What exactly does this mean? Longer term, basically we won’t know whether the UK’s planned exit from the EU will have any effect on this arrangement until specific agreements are reached. At this stage, we will only be able to benefit until spring 2019.
In the meantime, prices have been falling gradually over the last ten years, thanks in part to developments in available technology. The proliferation of handheld devices and the ease with which people can communicate and access the internet has put additional pressure on phone operators across Europe to lower fees.
The wholesale cap on fees announced in February this year means that business or leisure travelers on a mobile contract in an EU country will be able to “roam as if home”, paying the same rate regardless of what EU country they are in.
However, we have already seen some confusion regarding calling the EU from Northern Ireland, this agreement does not affect these calls and texts, are still charged at international rates.
The new deal works in favour for the subsequent development of any UK company’s corporate mobile telecoms contracts and networks, with data allowances and call rates now unaffected, even if only for 24 months until things are clearer.
With Belfast becoming a global hub for digital, fin-tech and cyber-security agencies, as a UK and in some cases a European base for multinationals, the need for 24/7 accessibility has never been more prevalent.
Cloud technology and remote access mean technical, customer service and senior managerial teams can be on-hand, and in your hand, whether skiing, surfing or skydiving. Well, maybe not skydiving.
The opportunities for business that the abolition of EU roaming charges presents are huge if properly capitalised upon. “Satellite offices” have been proven to increase productivity, allowing employees to conduct business, hold meetings and communicate with clients, team members, stakeholders or suppliers, from the comfort of a sun drenched terrace or even the TGV between meetings.
From the slopes of Trieste, to the beaches of St Tropez, your team can always be only an email away.
Image courtesy of nenetus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net