The EU has voted to ban roaming charges for mobile phones from next year, but rate caps have already been put in place this month. Here, we explain what the new rules mean for you, and how much you can now expect to be charged for texts, calls and internet while travelling in the EU.
Free internet while on holiday in Europe
As of July 2014, owners of an iPhone, iPad, or other smartphone or tablet, will be able to use their devices elsewhere in Europe for the same price as they can at home, after the EU voted to ban roaming charges for mobiles in June.
Cheaper internet, texts, calls while travelling in Europe
For now, though, consumers can already benefit from roaming rate caps that were introduced on 1 July under new EU rules.
Thanks to the new rules, travellers can now get 1MB of data – that's the equivalent of browsing five web pages or downloading 40 emails – for a capped rate of €0.45 (38p*) in countries across Europe.
British holidaymakers in Europe will be charged a maximum of €0.24 (20p) a minute to make a phone call, or €0.07 (6p) a minute to receive one. Text messages are capped at €0.08 (7p) each.
In addition, the cap means that, in one billing period, no one will be charged more than €50 (£43) more than their normal monthly contract cost for using their phone while travelling in Europe.
Vice President of the EU Commission Neelie Kroes' tweet from 30 June
This should come as good news for UK holidaymakers, who, according to price comparison site uSwitch, spend an average of £120 extra on their mobile phone each time they go abroad.
The ban on roaming charges in the EU could come even sooner than July 2014, though. A spokesperson for the EU has said: "Roaming charges is the one thing everyone agrees on. Members of the European parliament will want to get the ban agreed sooner rather than later so they can go to the elections in May next year and say 'look what we did'."
“Around one in seven Brits arrive home from holiday to a massive phone bill due to the charges they have racked up on foreign turf," Ernest Doku from uSwitch has said. “Scrapping all roaming charges in EU countries is a real win for consumers. Not only will we be better protected from the shock of these steep bills, but the doors will be open to foreign networks looking for a piece of the market in Britain, which could mean cheaper mobile deals too.”
While also delighted about the new plans, UK consumers group Which? highlights its concern that the industry could hike other charges to compensate.
Additional reporting from Simon Jary of TechAdvisor.
*prices exclude VAT