back to article At last: EU slashes mobile roaming fees

From today the EU cap on roaming plunges down to €0.45 (38p) per MB, and €0.24 (21p) for a minute's conversation, but in another 12 months the very concept of roaming will change forever. The drops represent the first enforced data tariffs, although the EU has mandated drops in the cost of voice calls and SMSes since 2009. …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't worry - they'll make their money another way

    Next time I'm on business in Africa (£8 per mb and a bundle that isn't remotely up to handling the amount of data your typical Android handset consumes in 30 days).

  2. jb99

    "Cheap roaming?"

    Only £389 per GB at my estimation.

    That hardly seems cheap even at the new prices.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Cheap roaming?"

      They have now redefined roaming as anywhere outside your house, if my mates experience is anything to go by.

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I got a "Good news, orange have reduced..." text over the weekend, I thought to myself, NO, Orange didn't they were forced...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I thought this myself, the txt make it sound like they're doing us a favour. typical spin and b*llsh*te

  5. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Just got a message from Vodafone

    saying how nice it was of them to decrease roaming charges.

    I smiled and thought how nice it was that somebody (Steely Neelie, I think) in the EU is forcing to do so.

    The thumbs up it to the EU (this time), not Vodaphone

  6. trashbat


    I'm on O2 UK PAYG tariff, with bundled data and text but no minutes. It's now cheaper to make calls when roaming Europe than it is when at home.

    A couple of years ago, they introduced a £2/day for 25MB plan in apparent response to EU rates. The previous week that same day's data would have cost £75.

    Both are a win for consumers, at least as far I'm concerned. It almost, but not quite, means not worrying about the cost of usage whilst in the EU.

    With that in mind, local breakout is surely an insane scheme - with massive complication, even just from a marketing PoV - to address something that isn't really a problem.

  7. Berny Stapleton
    Thumb Up

    RE: LBO

    I'm all for it, while the latency around Europe isn't that bad, backhaul is.

    I get a lot faster data in my own country than while roaming, but on the roaming network with a local SIM, it flies.

    So, yes please to LBO. It means that my latency will be lower and I don't have to be routed over the carrier's backhaul. Ultimately, I think they will do this by default for all roaming users, why transit all that traffic if you don't have to?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Information required

    Does anyone have an idea how many megabytes it would require driving from -say- Cannes to Göteborg using an online nav app like Apple's ?


    1. David Black

      Re: Information required

      Did a similar-ish journey from Barcelona to Copenhagen and the total data cost for 3 days was only about £60 on an O2's bog standard tarrif two months ago (no idea of specific MBs pulled down for maps as it was pulling in emails too)... I thought it was pricey but didn't have the choice and my company picked up the tab. Still prefer a proper Garmin sat nav for driving but Google maps rocks when you are lost and have only a rough idea of what you are looking for as a bar called "Stripe something" gets matched to the nearest hit but my dear Garmin wouldn't have a clue.

      1. Matt 21

        Re: Information required @David

        You could get a map book for a fiver. I'm not sure why you'd want to pay for a data connection for the entire route. In fact you could get to Copenhagen just by looking at the maps displayed in the Motorway service stations!

        I can understand that it could be helpful for finding the hotels but even that's not too hard with a map.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Information required

        "3 days was only about £60"

        You seriously think that was reasonable !!!!!

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Information required

        Thanks very much. SO the cost of ONE trip pays for dedicated nav software. This is very helpful. Thanks again !

    2. Dave Fox

      Re: Information required

      No idea I'm afraid, but it would still probably be cheaper to just buy an offline GPS solution with European maps (e.g. Copilot).

      There are exceptions though that may make it cost effective - Three will give you "unlimited" data roaming across the EU for £5 per day, and Vodafone will allow you to use your UK data allowance for £3 per day if you've signed up for Eurotraveller - both only charged on days you use your device.

    3. HamsterNet
      Thumb Up

      Re: Information required

      Nothing whatsoever with NAVFREE

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Had a text from t-moblie saying they are now

    24.5p to call

    7.1p to receive

    and 45.9p per MB

    slightly above the EU prices, i guess the EU prices are before tax?

    1. Tom 260

      Re: T-Moblie

      Similar here, on Orange (EE now really), deleted it already but as I recall it was 42p/MB.

      Either it's tax (no idea of the rate used for calls/texts) or the price is set in Euros and they're taking liberties with the exchange rates.

      1. JetSetJim Silver badge

        Re: T-Moblie

        The price is set in Euros, so I'm guessing the small differences are fluctuation in currency rates (€ has been between 1.14 and 1.19 per £ for the last few months). The article says 38p/MB and my text says 45.9p/MB. The BEEB coverage says "45 euro cents per megabyte or about 38.5p, plus VAT." I'm assuming my TXTed rate includes VAT

  10. Lee D Silver badge

    "per MB"

    Not interested. Next!

    Seriously, this isn't the 90's any more. I appreciate that it's part of a sliding scale to bring prices down but it's TOO SLOW. By the time we get there, it won't be unusual to want to do GIGABYTES of downloads. Hell, my phone is the cheapest smartphone that was on the market 2 years ago. I have a 32Gb SD chip in it, and deliberately DON'T use the 3G at all because it's too stupidly expensive, even at home, and the half-Gig allowance is so pitiful that for any real task you need to use Wifi.

    By the time we get roaming prices down to a sensible level - at this rate - I'll be having hundreds of gigs of storage and be wanting to download hundreds of Gigabytes each month.

    There is NO POINT in buying 4G or 5G or whatever-G will be around by the time prices come down if it's STILL going to cost you a fortune just because you accidentally left it turned on and your background apps decided to update. That background noise of app communication, app updates, system updates, etc. SHOULD NOT INCUR CHARGES when abroad, or at home. It should be accounted for in the standard part of the bare minimum contract that includes anything to do with Internet access. Currently, I can wipe out my entire month's allowance at home just by letting every app on this cheapy phone of mine update to the latest version over 3G (hence why I turn that off all the time and use Wifi if I need anything).

    Price per Gigabyte, on the same sorts of pricing (i.e. less than a pound/Euro per Gigabyte), and I'll think about it. Anything else and I'll turn it off when abroad and just stop giving you money that way. This is also why things like Skype and Whatsapp are popular - because you want to sting everyone when they text internationally even though it costs you next-to-nothing. You can't get those people "back" by then making 3G abroad impossibly expensive too, because they just won't use it either. I'll be damned if I'll even buy a "booster" for roaming calls, and instead I'll just keep the phone on me, in basic "2G" mode and not answer unless it's an absolute emergency, and use Skype etc. over Wifi for anything I need to talk home for.

    You are helping NOBODY, not even yourselves, until prices are per Gigabyte and reasonable.

    Hell, with the Internet, it's cheaper for me to buy everyone I know a Skype-phone that plugs into their broadband and phone socket, and just Skype them from abroad than it would be to call them direct over years of such use.

    Hint: In 5-10 years time, I will post the same rant but with Mb replaced by Gb and Gb replaced by Tb. Account for that today, and save yourself the hassle of chasing revenue streams in the future.

    1. xerocred

      fully agree

      I recently took a look at roaming pricing. Using O2 uk website it provides interesting reference...

      1GB in uk costs UKP8pm

      1GB roaming in EU costs you UKP680 (68p/MB )biz rate ~100x

      1GB roaming in rest of world costs UKP6000 (600p/MB ) ~1000x

      Of course there are other deals and these numbers are roughly typical for taking no special arrangements before you travel except they block you after a few MB now.

      We have had roaming for over 20 years and still there is such discredancy. I conclude the eu consumer protection are fucking useless profligate unemployable wasters.

  11. DrXym Silver badge

    Data rates are still a scam

    45 cents per megabyte is nothing short of daylight robbery.

    Fortunately the EU are abolishing roaming entirely next year, but it's stupid that they should have left this cap so high. A more reasonable interim solution would a 1 day, 7 day and 30 day tiered maximum tariff, e.g. €3 for 30MB in a day, €15 for 200MB in a week, €25 for a month 800MB.

    Just enough for basic network capability for a high but not outrageously high price. Telcos would probably make more money that way anyway.

  12. Wize


    Vodafone are pulling a fast one with their roaming packages.

    For £3 per day, you can use your own tarrifs from back in the UK.

    Or you can pay 28.8p per minute to make a call, 7.9p to receive a call and 8.9p per text.

    If you only want to send a few texts, it looks cheaper without their package.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Vodafone

      Yes, operators are allowed to make additional offers but must provide at least the capped service. Note, some operators dream up packages and sign you up to them automatically, ie. you have to actively say "no thanks, I'll just stick with the EU package". Travelling anywhere, but especially outside the EU, for more than a couple of days it's almost always worth buying a local SIM card or two.

  13. Jon H
    Thumb Down

    38p - is that ex VAT?

    Tescos have today updated their mobile charges page stating 45p per MB in Europe. However they go on to say "upto 80MB for £40"... err, that's 50p per MB!

    However outside of Europe they still charge a staggering £8 per MB!!!!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All very well pushing down roaming charges...

    but the mobile telecos just make up the difference by applying price-hikes elsewhere. Witness the 35p/min (or part of minute) for accessing voicemail on Orange on a contract!!!

  15. Dr_N Silver badge


    Where are all the posts telling us how bad the EU is for forcing it's citizens to have cheaper roaming on their mobiles?!

    1. Squander Two

      The problem with the EU...

      ... is that it's undemocratic. Some of us have a principled objection to the fact that, if we don't like one of their decisions, there's no-one we can vote against in response. In practice, though, some of their decisions are absolutely fine, and some are much better than those of the numpties we have in charge here. There's no contradiction in acknowledging these two facts.

  16. rhinoceros

    Get a local Sim

    The roaming fees are totally insane.

    Best is getting a local Simcard.

    Can save you a lot of beers.

    Going to France ?

    3 GB a month (tethering and Voip allowed) and unlimited landline calls accross europe and USA:

    For €20!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Get a local Sim

      ...and a dual-SIM phone as well. I use dual SIMs all the time with one being a local SIM and the other a global roaming SIM with free incoming calls in about a hundred countries. I forget the name of the main company but its retailed via 0044.

      Unfortunately dual-SIM phones are very hard to find though unless you source them via the internet in India, China, Brazil, Russia. In the west the likes of Vodafone have a stranglehold on retailers and they definitely do not want another SIM in "their" phone. Here are a few to get started on -

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: Get a local Sim

        I keep an old phone for the same reason. My main smartphone gives me decent net access via the various free wifi points, and my old phone + local SIM works just great for calls. It's a slight inconvenience to carry both, but not a major one`.

    2. Steve Graham

      Re: Get a local Sim

      I've just come back from a month in Italy. Oh how I did laugh at O2's text message on arrival, offering me a massive 15Mb a day for only £1.99 a day.

      My TIM SIM was €20 + a €2 top-up, giving me 2Gb for the month (and €5 phone credit). If I'm back in Italy in the next year, I'll only need to top up the €2.

  17. Boothy

    Data allowance

    It's about time that if your contract, (full contract, rolling or PAYG), that includes a data allowance, then that allowance should be used when roaming as well as at home.

    I've already paid for data thank you, why should I have to pay again? Perhaps use at twice the rate when roaming?

    I find it ridiculous that I've basically got 1GB monthly allowance, of which about 300-400MB is used per month for all my data, (I never switch data off, and only use wifi if 3G is weak/slow, or I've got a large app (i.e. game) to update). Which means even at double rate, I've still got allowance left to cover holidays etc.

  18. Nelbert Noggins

    European charges are a joke, even after being forced down.

    GiffGaff sent out their "lower international costs" last week. the was much head scratching trying to work out how it's now cheaper to call most of the world from a mobile in the UK than it is to call the uk, Europe or roam in the EU.

    Calls to china landline and mobile are 2p/min (down from £1/min) from a mobile phone... india, usa, russia and most of Europe are just as cheap.

    When UK calling to rest of world is so cheap on a mobile, there is no sensible reason other than 'gouge their wallets' for roaming to cost so much

  19. the-it-slayer

    Does it really cost that much to bear foreign data?

    Is it really the UK mobile companies having a laugh at the consumers expense or do the foreign networks have UK networks over a barrel with no choice but to demand a high price? In the early days of GPRS, maybe so with limited bandwidth channels. Surely EU mobile companies have the same requirements to provide decent 3G data to home customers?

    Forcing to below the cap is not enough. Makes the UK mobile companies go "nicky, nicky, ner, ner" at us and the EU. Because of decreasing competition (After Orange/T-Mob merge), we're left with less choice. EE giving me a choice of 45.9p per MB non-addon or £1 per 3MB addons via their announcement?? Take mick why don't you.

    1. Nigel 11

      Re: Does it really cost that much to bear foreign data?

      1p for the data and £10 for the bean-counting?

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Does it really cost that much to bear foreign data?

      It would cost a whole lot more if it wasn't capped - just go anywhere outside the EEA to see what the operators think they have a right to charge.

    3. Squander Two

      The UK networks and the foreign networks?

      Roaming charges used to make some sort of sense back in the early days: I can understand why it might be quite expensive for two telcos in two different jurisdictions with different infrastructure to co-ordinate calling and billing. But then all the firms started merging and taking each other over. Now, if I'm with Vodafone UK, I go to France and use Vodafone FR, then go to Germany and use Vodafone DE, then Italy and use Vodafone IT, etc, etc, yet I have to pay through the nose for these completely different companies to somehow co-ordinate their efforts? How could the foreign networks possibly have the UK networks over a barrel? They're the same bloody networks. I would happily accept a deal where I pay sod-all roaming in return for being restricted to using the same company in every country (you know, exactly like at home) or pay ridiculous roaming charges if I choose to switch to different networks.

  20. Bod

    How about roaming within the UK?

    Local breakout overseas to use another operator is fine, but how about giving us that option within the UK?

    I don't even mind if there's a small surcharge if I'm not on my home network.

    The main issue I find is just sticking with one network leaves you with massive coverage holes, especially with 3G. I have a work and personal phone and one is on Vodafone, one on Orange and travelling on the train, in the office, at home, and in the countryside I find one has good coverage in some places while the other has none and vice versa. All we need is either open up all the towers to all networks or allow phones to roam within the UK to boost signal availability.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: How about roaming within the UK?

      It'll happen automatically - just get a SIM from another country and roam in your own. LBO is just unbundling by another name.

  21. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    LBO will be great

    It will allow proper wholesale markets. In essence it's not much difference to the international calling cards or SIMs that are already available. It just add an incentive to offer travellers better services. Sure, the comfort of being able share the profit with the traveller's home network is out the window (this was the whole reason for the caps) but that just means that local operators get to keep all of the profit themselves. This will encourage specialisation (ie. providers of backhaul), customisation and innovation (calls will go all VoIP pretty quickly). Get two SIMs from different countries and avoid forever being tied to stupid plans.

    Pity Bill seems to think that this stimulus for competition is somehow bureaucratic. Just shows you how cosy the old telco world was.

  22. devereaux

    Bureacracy strikes again...

    There are two ways of removing tonsils, based on the access route....and one of them is particularly painful.

    Bureaucrats must attend a similar school...only they are not told about the easy way.

  23. David Kelly 2

    Time To Try A Free Market?

    Government isn't holding prices down, they hare holding prices up. If government would get out of the way companies would cut each other's throats for your wireless contracts.

    In the USA wired lines were heavily regulated protected utility services whose prices must be held down "so all can have access." Wireless was relatively unregulated and initially much more expensive.

    Today wired phone service is more expensive than wireless, and thats even after the "Apple Tax" for iPhones.

    1. jonfr

      Re: Time To Try A Free Market?

      This is not true, as has happened time and again. Price rise when the free market gets to be too free. When EU started this it gave the mobile companies plenty of time to do this on there own. They didn't and that is why EU is pushing down the price of roaming mobile calls and data.

  24. Guillermo Lo Coco

    EU should mandate an END to PSTN. Kill the rabid dog.

    Because the better way to solve a problem, is to attack the cause.

    VOIP XMPP replacement ASAP!

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      > VOIP XMPP replacement ASAP!

      You must be joking. The PSTN is still far and away the most reliable, highly-available service around. Maybe you don't care if you phone doesn't work sometimes, or if having a few dropped calls is unimportant, but for many of us the guaranteed reliablity of POTS is essential.

      Of course IP-based communications could be made as reliable as the PSTN, but then it would cost 10x as much. Each service has its own levelsof quality and cost, and each suits its respective market.

      1. Uplink

        "Of course IP-based communications could be made as reliable as the PSTN, but then it would cost 10x as much."

        I'm missing the terms that "10x as much" operates on. What will cost 10x as much compared to what? I assume the first operand is "IP-based communications" will cost 10x as much. But is it 10x as much as they currently cost? Or 10x as much as POTS currently costs?

        I mean, I'm confused because mobile data charges are crazy enough as it is. Can't costs be 10x that, can they?

  25. TheMadMuskateer

    Just had a fruitless conversation with Three customer support about how the €50 cap will work - is data "free" once you hit 50 euros or does it stop.

    I'm no more enlightened.

  26. En_croute

    In France now....

    I looked for the best solution, as between 76 of us we have 15 IP devices - I found a UK company selling Unlimited data on an Orange France SIM for use in a MiFi (1 month £59 plus £10 setup costs). 3Gb at 3G speed, then 2G after that - but this area only has 2G anyway, so speed was never going to be great.

    As all the devices consider WiFi "free", all the application and system updates have continued as normal, as I couldn't be bothered to install application blocking firewalls on family phones/tablets/laptops.

    £10 each for 3 weeks - bargain!

    So far, 17 days in, 18Gb used.....

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