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News 15 Jun 17

Balkan EU States Drop Roaming Fees

Mobile phone users from Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania will be able to save money from Thursday onwards, when new EU rules officially scrapping roaming charges come into force.

BIRN Team
Sofia, Bucharest, Zagreb
Photo: Pixabay

Mobile phones users all over the EU, which includes Bulgaria, Romania, Greece and Croatia, will benefit from new “roam like at home” rules from Thursday, when new pan-European rules enter into force. The new rules were agreed by the European Parliament and the Council in January.

The minutes of calls, SMS and megabytes of data that a person consumes abroad within the EU will be charged the same as at home, the European Commission explained.

After reaching their mobile consumption limit, consumers will continue to use data roaming for a small fee of up to 7.7 cent/GB + VAT, which is 6.5 times less than before June 15, the Commission has noted.

However, if a person has unlimited mobile data or very cheap mobile data at home, his operator may apply a safeguard [a so-called fair use] limit on data used while roaming, the EU executive has warned.

Consumers must be aware, however, that while the roam-like-at-home rules apply to services between mobile operators from one country within the whole of the EU, they do not apply to foreign telecoms, experts have warned.

Calls made to neighbouring countries outside the EU will also remain at the higher prices determined by the local operators.

In Bulgaria, the state Commission for Consumer Protection reminded people to be aware of "fair use" limits that telecom firms may apply to roaming services. Any lack of information from mobile services providers will be considered as unfair business practice, it said.

Following signals from consumers, the Commission has also warned clients of telecom firms not to fall into the trap of signing contracts with new tariff plans at favourable prices which at the same time try to avoid the abolition of free roaming.

In Romania, the telecom company RCS&RDS, which has the lowest price for mobile telephony on the market, has asked the government to allow it to apply an excess fare for the next 12 months for roaming in the EU.

Romania’s Telecom authority ANCOM, said companies that cannot sustain implementation the “roam like at home” program can request authorization for an excess fare.

ANCOM also warned on Monday that the “roam like at home” mechanism is not as simple as it looks: the amount of calls made in the EU or CEE are deducted from the amount of calls included in the subscription. An excess fare is applied if the user abuses the service. 

Croatia's Regulatory Authority for Network Industries, HAKOM, also informed citizens on Monday that while roaming prices will now be equal to those for in-country traffic, to prevent misuse, mobile phone operators can limit mobile internet traffic abroad and can charge additional after certain limits.

However, the companies must inform the user of the limit and the prices by which he can surf.

 

 

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