— 5 min read —
As of June 15 2017, the end of EU roaming charges will mean that travelling within Europe will become even easier. Gone will be the days of dreading your phone bill after having spent a week using your 3G to navigate around an unknown city.
This will be a great achievement for the European Parliament, which has been pushing the ‘roam like at home’ campaign since 2007 in retaliation against mobile network providers charging extortionate roaming fees (such as charging up to 10 times the normal tariff for sending and receiving text messages when abroad).
What exactly are roaming charges?
Roaming charges are additional fees on top of the normal cost of your phone contract when using your phone in a foreign country for texting, calling and using data.
And what are the current EU roaming laws?
This table shows the maximum roaming charges that European networks have been allowed to charge customers since April 2016. These have already been reduced by more than 90% since the European Commission began its drive to reduce roaming charges in 2007.
As part of these laws, providers must notify customers about the price of texting, calling and using data in the country they have just entered. To protect against ‘bill shock’, bills must be capped at 50€ and customers are to be warned when they have reached 80% of this limit. If you think your provider has breached these laws, contact them directly and point out your rights and their obligations. If this fails, you can get in touch with your national regulatory authorities.
What will change on 15 June 2017?
All data roaming charges within the EU will be abolished. Meaning that you will be free to use your favourite apps, as if you were still at home.
“As of 15 June, Europeans will be able to travel in the EU without roaming charges. It means that when travelling in the EU, consumers will be able to call, send SMS or surf on their mobile at the same price they pay at home.”
– The European Commission
These new laws will only apply to temporary visitors, however, and providers will still be able to charge you for permanently using your SIM card in another country.
How will this impact the hospitality industry?
Sky high roaming charges often meant that those post-holiday blues were made all the more sobering by the all too well known phenomenon of ‘bill shock’. This meant that many travellers were shocked by excessive charges into attempting to avoid their phone on holiday. However, with the changes to EU roaming regulations, many of those remaining old-fashioned travellers will be tempted into joining the herd of smartphone travellers.
With more travellers therefore relying on their phones to improve their overall holiday experience, there will be an increasing need for the travel industry to tap into a new wave of demand for travel enhancing mobile solutions. Hotels should not miss out on this opportunity.
As travellers will no longer need to disrupt their contact with friends and family at home while on holiday, they should also not need to break contact with their hotel. Live interactions with hotel staff, for example, should be made available for hotel guests wherever they are. What can be better than ordering room service to be delivered to your room for when you return from a tiring day of exploring ?
What about non-EU residents?
It is important to point out that these new laws only apply to EU citizens. Therefore, those travelling from outside of the EU will continue to be subject to the same roaming charges. This means that a large number of guests will still be restricted to WiFi zones if they want to enjoy their smartphone on holiday.
LoungeUp has come up with one solution for international guests by offering an App which allows them to download certain content while connected to the hotel WiFi. This will allow them to access the map, hotel recommendations as well as the newsstand on the go. Live interactions with the hotel will be the only function that remains unavailable to travellers from outside of the EU when not connected to WiFI.
Another way through which you can allow non-EU guests to access all the app’s functions, is by offering them the opportunity to rent a WiFi dongle or mobile hotspot from Travel WiFi. Your guests can connect up to 10 devices to this portable hotspot, allowing them to send messages, surf the web and make phone calls for free, whether at the hotel or on the road. As mobile hotspots rely on using 3G/4G networks to wirelessly share data connection, they too will be affected by the changes to roaming regulations. Europe-wide mobile hotspot packages are therefore likely to become more popular and more reasonable to use throughout Europe once the new roaming charges come into action.
Written by Celia