“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
Gone are the days of dreading your phone bill after a week’s holiday of using 3G to try and navigate around an unknown country. Post-holiday blues were only intensified by a phenomenon called ‘bill shock’ – a phenomenon so sobering travelers would avoid their phones while on holiday.
‘Roam like at home’ means that calls, texts and data are all free in Europe, and as it automatically came into effect, customers didn’t even have to lift a finger to make sure they were signed up.
It is billed as an ‘end to all roaming charges’, but it’s actually not as simple as that. The small print in the EU rules states a ‘fair usage’ policy, meaning mobile phone companies can still charge extra fees for some users who have unlimited, or data generous, packages.
Here’s how some of the leading UK networks are limiting ‘free’ data roaming:
|HOW MUCH OF YOUR UK DATA CAN YOU USE WITH NO EXTRA CHARGES?||HOW MUCH EXTRA WILL YOU PAY OVER THIS LIMIT?|
|EE||15GB||You’ll need to buy an add-on – 1GB to use over a week costs £6.99|
|O2||All – no fair usage limit||N/A|
|THREE||12GB for contract, data and SIM only. 9BG for PAYG users.||0.73p/MB|
|VODAFONE||All – no fair usage limit||N/A|
|GIFFGAFF||6GB is on an ‘always on’ package||0.73p/MB|
There’s also a limit as to how many days you can access free data, with a maximum of 30 days at a time and 90 days per year.
Why does the ‘fair usage’ limit matter?
It’s important to remember that we use our devices differently while abroad, spending a lot more time checking maps, sharing experiences and photos with friends online and making video calls with loved ones. So it’s also really important to remember that your data allowance will run out extremely quickly. Plus, if you’re streaming or downloading content this will drain your allowance even faster.
The new law also only applies to EU citizens, meaning lots of people still need access to WiFi and are vulnerable to being charged extortionate fees. It’s also worth being mindful that Brexit brings a lot of uncertainty for free EU data roaming – as yet, no one knows what will happen.
So, what do we think about the new EU ‘free’ data roaming?
Well, we’d say that when you can, rely on WiFi and turn off your data allowance. WiFi is usually faster, cheaper and also allows you to be more ‘data heavy’, making video calls and browsing online til your heart’s content.
EU data roaming is excellent as a backup and to check-in while on the move, but we’d suggest that sticking to WiFi where it is available is always best. When using WiFi you’ll be rest assured you’ve removed the risk of hefty fees and charges, taking away the worry from your holiday.
A quick point about security…
When using WiFi abroad, try to connect in places you visit, such as bars and restaurants, that have password protected WiFi. Not only will this keep your connection secure, but you’ll possibly receive discounts and promotions from the businesses your patronizing via text or email – who doesn’t love a discount on their next drink, or a free dessert with their meal?!
If you are traveling round Europe, you’ll often be at risk of security problems. Rather than using a password protected home or work network, you’ll be using public WiFi or even worse, shared computers.
Anyone on the same network (which could be hundreds or even thousands of people) could grab your passwords, usernames, credit card numbers and browsing history – a VPN (Virtual Private Network) protects you from this.
VPNs also let you get around Internet filtering – sites you might not expect (such as Netflix, Facebook and the BBC) are blocked in certain countries. To get around this, you simply connect your VPN to a country that doesn’t block the site you’re after.
Got any thoughts on ‘free’ EU data roaming? Let us know below!
And if you’re running a business and looking to offer safe and secure WiFi to your patrons – no matter where they’re from – why not give Stampede a shot?