EU approves preliminary deal that will overhaul roaming agreements

Cellular customers in Europe will soon be paying less for roaming charges incurred while roaming in other European countries. A preliminary deal has been struck between the European Parliament and representatives of the Council and the European Commission that will set EU roaming rules that carriers must abide by starting July 1st.

The agreement will be up for final approval at the European Parliament and the Council in May and June 2012, respectively. Over the next two years, the agreement would reduce the maximum charges individuals could incur while roaming outside their home country. If approved, all European carriers must abide by the new rate caps starting July 1, 2012 and lasting until July 1, 2014. The new rate schedule is presented below:

After July 1, 2014, customers will be able to shop around and purchase roaming agreements provided by EU carriers in the country in which customers will be traveling. Customers will be allowed to keep the same phone number across all roaming agreements, and the user’s phone will seamlessly switch to the roaming network upon crossing country borders.

The EU is touting that the move will further enhance competition between networks, which will benefit customers by further driving down the fees associated with roaming. Operators who do not have their own networks in a region will have immediate access to other operator’s networks at wholesale prices outlined in the second part of the table above. This will result in customers who are traveling to other countries paying similar prices to those enjoyed by customers native to those countries.

Since it doesn’t really cost more for operators to provide service to visitors on their networks, the deal makes a lot of sense and is one of the more customer-friendly cellular network deals devised as of late. Hopefully this marks the beginning of a trend and we will soon see a world where it doesn’t matter what carrier you choose, and that you will be able to seamlessly travel wherever you want to go without having to worry about costly roaming fees.

For more details on the tentative deal, be sure to read through the full EU press release on the Europa web site.

[via The Register, Fair Roaming, Europa]

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