The EU extends its ‘Roam-like-at-home’ mobile service rule through 2032

Back in 2017, the European Union took the shockingly sensible step of largely ending roaming charges for its citizens traveling between member states, dubbing it the “roam-like-at-home” scheme. Roam-like-at-home, which operates in the 27 countries of the European Economic Area plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway – but not in the UK due to Brexit – was due to phase out at the end of June. However, on Thursday the European Commission announced that it would extend the system by another decade to 2032.

The European Commission cites benefits for both consumers and telecoms providers as part of its decision, as consumers enjoy “a better roaming experience with the same quality of mobile service abroad as at home”, improved access to emergency services and increased transparency in the Tariffs so that travelers in the EU don’t find a huge bill when they come home.

“Remember when we had to turn off mobile data when traveling in Europe – to avoid ending up with a huge roaming bill?” Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said in Thursday’s press release. “Well, that’s history. And we intend to keep it that way for at least the next 10 years. Better speed, more transparency: we keep improving the lives of EU citizens.”

The expanded rules suggest that network operators “ensure consumers have access to use 4G or the more advanced 5G networks when available at the destination” and “automatically pause cellular services when cellular services over non-terrestrial networks incur charges.” cause of €50 or some other pre-defined limit.” They also require that the emergency number 112 be available throughout the economic area and that airlines by June 2023 must inform travelers via SMS or pop-up when entering the EU about this possibility.

Most importantly, the new rules will put a few euros back in consumers’ pockets because the EU is governed by sane adults who can negotiate better wholesale data and voice prices with telecoms providers without the whole process escalating into a constitutional crisis. Users can expect to pay €2/GB this year, with that tariff steadily decreasing to €1/GB from 2027, €0.022/min for voice until 2025 when it decreases to €0.019/min, and from now on for everyone SMS will cost €0.004 by 2025, when it will drop to €0.003.

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Russell Falcon

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