At a time when the harsh divide between us and member states over Brexit becomes ever sharper and the country itself is divided on quite where this momentous decision will take us, it is quite refreshing to point to a pan european decision that seems to be strikingly sensible and one we can all agree on. The abolishment of mobile roaming charges!

From June 15th this year these additional voice, text and data charges will end. Always controversial, travellers have for years had to add costly bolt-ons or accept surcharges to secure limited ‘safe’ use or run the risk of racking up expensive bills through opaque charging structures.

Roaming charges exist because when we travel aboard our mobile operator pays the local supplier to allow us to connect to their network. They then charge us a fee to recoup their costs. It’s fair to say that for many years UK carriers actually made a considerable profit from these fees leading to criticism over their tactics which forced regulation that, over time, considerably dropped the tariffs. Indeed, costs are now over 90% cheaper than they were in 2007. However, charges still remain from most carriers and it is these that are being scrapped. It means that there will be no extra fees for calls, SMS messages or Internet outside of the UK when we travel almost anywhere within the EU. I can hear a collective sigh of relief from holidaymakers whose mobile phones are an essential part of their holiday entertainment but equally, it is a significant boost to businesses whose staff need connectivity and internet access do their jobs but have been faced with the uncertainly of costs and the real potential of substantial shocks come bill time at the end of the month.

From our point of view I am very pleased to see simplicity and clarity brought to the whole charging structure. I’d like to think that FCC always works very hard to help all of our clients, who travel and do work in Europe, to use the best available tariff and to understand the potentials cost implications of their usage. I think staying on top of matters like these is one of our strengths. Nevertheless, with every carrier having its own approach to how they charged in Europe this levelling of the playing field is a significant development and one that should be applauded. One, slight grey cloud hanging over this is the aforementioned Brexit. There is much to be negotiated and one assumes that this arrangement will also come under scrutiny. Since we know these decisions are some time off we can assume that from June 15th and for at least two years we can banish the term ‘roaming charges’ from our travel phrase book.

Mark Burland

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