Data Roaming in the EU and its consequences for travelers in 2017

Data Roaming allows us to continue talking and surfing beyond our borders. Thanks to agreements among operators they can continue providing service in other countries to us. However, roaming has always been a delicate topic worrying millions of travelers every year. This was for good reasons. Just having a quick look on the high cost that roaming can cause when making simple phone calls or writing messages can be sobering. Many people still think that receiving calls abroad does not cause any roaming costs. Unfortunately, this has been proven to be false and has already caused big surprises for travelers in the past.

When talking about the access to internet from a mobile smartphone, we must be cautious. Although people might think not to use any data simply because they are not browsing or using any application can be costly. In order to avoid the high cost of calls and data roaming it is highly recommendable to buy a prepaid Travel Sim Card.

Another option to avoid huge data roaming is to simply deactivate your data connection in the mobile phone settings. This is a very important step as mobile apps in the background will make automatic updates all the time. If you do not deactivate data roaming in your settings, apps in the background can easily use up 20-50 MB of data every single day.

Pyla-sur-Mer, southwest France © Ludovic Marin

Introduction of Roam-like-home

The best case scenario when traveling Europe would be to use your mobile phone and Sim Card regardless of your current location, network provider and amount of data usage. The question remains how much this will cost you.

This best case scenario might become true very soon. The European has decided, in common agreement with the nations of Europe, to create the European Community of Roaming.  This means that people who are traveling among countries within Europe should not be affected by excessive roaming charges anymore. Users who are within the European Community would pay as if they were browsing the internet in their country of origin. If everything goes to plan, from 15th June 2017 onwards roaming costs should be finally eliminated. All European users can finally forget about the inconvenient bills for data consumption in Europe.

But let’s go into detail about this act. According to this joint agreement by the European Community of Nations, the maximum price for calls from your mobile phone will be about 0.032 Euros per minute. 0.01 Euros will be the benchmark for messaging services. 7.70 Euros will be maximum per GB used  (which will be progressively reduced until reaching and set at 2.50 Euros by 2022). These rates are considered as “wholesale” prices. They have been concluded between all member nations of the European Community.

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The goal of the EU

The common goal of eliminating data roaming is to allow better and more transparent use for European travelers. However, caution is to be retained! Nothing is yet 100% sure about how these prices will be really applied for the end user and whether data roaming will be abolished completely. Some rumors say that operators will lower the quality of internet. This is due to the fact that roaming prices are still considerably high among operators. This also means that prices for quality data plans will rise. Furthermore, this regulation will not be applicable to travelers coming from outside Europe. The easiest way for international travelers will be to buy a prepaid Sim Card that is valid for all Europe.

Seeing this ever growing trend of, companies like Simoptions.com have specialized in travel Sim Cards. Offers range from packages focusing on certain countries to Sim Cards covering all Europe. EUROPE DATA SIM PREPAIDPackage offerings range from 10GB data only up to 100GB of data, 240 min in calls and up to 2,000 SMS per Sim Card at rates ranging from US $49.90 to US $118.90 depending on user.

Whereas the European Commission will be likely to abolish data roaming for private consumers, roam like home will not be mandatory to B2B markets. European mobile network operators will have no obligation to apply those prices for corporate customers as well. Prices in the corporate sector are therefore likely to stay stable and not going to decrease.

Apps eliminating real calls and SMS

With more and more sophisticated smartphones, users can stay closely connected to their contacts. Thanks to mobile apps like WhatsApp, Skype and Viber you can communicate in real time and with a minimum of costs and data needed. It is no problem anymore to make even video calls for zero cost. The data packages for Sim Cards offered by European operators have more and more benefits for users. Thanks to the implementation of the applications users can enjoy voice, video and text communication much more easy, safe and convenient.

WhatsApp offers messaging applications since 2009. Since 2016 they also offer phone calls. Their newest release is making video calls with your counterpart.

Skype is one of the best mobile applications currently available for free calls. With more than 100 million downloads, its quality of call is beyond doubt.

Viber is one of the most downloaded mobile apps. It is rated and recommended from more than 100 million users with a rating of 4.3 out of 5 in the Google Play Store. When you install it, it synchronizes with your contacts. You will know immediately who from your contacts is also using the application.

You have no excuse for not using one of these apps, since 99% of Your contacts must have WhatsApp.