How does the abolition of EU roaming charges affect your business? Stuart Carson of Rainbow, with passport in hand, lays out the logistics.
As of June 15th, roaming charges throughout the EU have been scrapped. This means mobile users will now be able to call, text, email and surf the net without paying anything extra.
It follows an agreement made in 2015 between the European Parliament, the Council of ministers and the European Commission, allowing business and leisure travellers to use their phones freely while within the 28 member nations, avoiding the exorbitant fees.
Or so they would have us believe.
In this digital age companies, organisations and individuals need to be available 24 hours a day, regardless of where they are in the world, and providers, while legally bound to adhere to the abolishment of roaming charges, have found the occasional loop hole to exploit.
Some of the “small print” that you need to be aware of, whether as a traveller or as a company’s mobile phone fleet manager, would include:
- Calls and texts sent from the UK to ROI, EU or the rest of the world are still classed as international and you will be charged accordingly.
- Fair use measures, which operators lobbied for, were to maintain a sense of cost effectiveness across the board, allowing consumers to “roam like at home”, but these are generally based on set limits, exceeding which can lead to unplanned fees.
- The new regulations only relate to short stays in the EU. If you plan to spend longer periods of time in a different EU country, speak to your mobile provider to discuss your options.
- It would also be advisable to check with your provider what they consider a member state of the EU as this can differ between companies! Countries lying within this “gray area” include the Channel Islands, Switzerland and Turkey.
Of course, this is all happening as proceedings begin to end the UK’s very membership of the EU.
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 new deal works in favour for the subsequent development of any UK company’s corporate mobile telecoms contracts and networks, with “satellite offices” proving 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.
The need for 24/7 accessibility has never been more prevalent, and cloud technology and remote access mean technical, customer service and senior managerial teams can be on-hand, and in your hand, regardless of location within the EU member states, even if only for 24 months.