European Commission Continues Fight against International Roaming Charges

by Matt Klassen on June 4, 2015

The threat of international roaming charges has created an interesting paradoxical ethos in our mobile world today, as instead of the unwarranted cash grab generating monumental revenues for carriers it has often had the opposite effect, generating a sense of fear among users so deep and pervasive that many people simply avoid using their phones while travelling abroad; not the result carriers were expecting I would guess.

So in an effort to save mobile users from being gouged by unscrupulous carriers and, quite frankly, in an effort to save carriers from ruining the very market they depend on for their business, the European Commission has been fighting to bring some balance to a roaming market as lawless as the Wild West.

In fact, since the European Commission began its fight against out of control roaming charges back in 2007, business and leisure travellers alike can now enjoy the lowest roaming charges ever, bringing fees reasonably in line with the service provided. The result is that travellers to Europe now need not fear their mobile devices, as it’s now virtually impossible for them to have one of those exorbitant mobile bills that nightmares are made of waiting for them at home.

I will say at the outset that the EC’s explanation of what roaming actually is seems to be aimed squarely at American visitors, as its explanation is so blindingly obvious that it reminds me of one of my own international travel experiences, where the “American” instructions for using an airport locker included a 10-point step-by-step walk-through, whereas the “English” instructions succinctly described the process in just 2 steps.

“When you travel to a foreign country with your mobile phone, you are roaming – your mobile phone company and one in the foreign country work together to keep you connected, so you can make and receive mobile phone calls, write text messages, surf the Web and download content,” the Commission explains, again likely speaking to the general ignorance of many American travellers, who don’t realize that using their mobile phones abroad actually costs more money…but I digress.

Carriers have been feasting off such consumer ignorance for years now, with weaker competition among national operators often resulting in excessive prices for such mobile services.

Now, after eight years of fighting against such gouging, the EC has reported that data roaming rates across Europe are 91 percent cheaper than they were in 2007, and data usage has increased by 630 percent.

The result, the EC has shown us what true global connectedness can look like, a world where travellers don’t’ have to fear their phones, but can continue to use them as they would at home, without the onerous fees. The problem, however, is that North American carriers have yet to embrace such forward thinking, as carriers here continue to rob travellers blind by overcharging them for a relatively affordable service.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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