June 15th 2017 is a landmark date in mobile telecoms.
New EU legislation comes into effect which means that Mobile Operators can no longer "penalize" EU consumers for using their phones within EU countries. Roaming charges have long been a problem for both consumers and businesses. The concept was that if you were a person using a phone whilst abroad, the operator could charge you an additional fee over and above your usual fee (a "roaming charge") for using your phone for voice or data, and even worse your bundled minutes, texts and data were not accessible whilst abroad.
The new legislation means that for most operators, and most EU countries, you can use your bundled minutes, text and data, and anything used outside of your allowances will only be charged as if you were still in your home country.
Great news for consumers, even better news for Corporations with mobile workforces. Not great news for the Operators who will see a huge impact on revenues.
We should exercise some caution here. The devil (as ever) is in the detail. People should still check their specific contracts to ensure that there are no clauses that affect them. Some Operators are applying for exemption, others have clauses that include or exclude certain countries from their roaming packages.
Even more so, there is still a potential for significant consumer confusion. Roaming charges are those where you are calling someone from the same home country as you. Being a UK resident visiting France and calling someone in France will still be treated as an international phone call and incur the relevant charges. Countries not formally part of the EU or European Economic Area (for instance, Switzerland, Andorra, Isle of Man, Channel Islands, Vatican City, Monaco, Gibraltar) are dealt with by each Operator on a case-by-case basis and consumers will need to check their own details, but may not immediately think about the implications when travelling.
For UK residents and companies, there is no clarity on post-Brexit impact, but for the next couple of years at least, the legislation is beneficial.
A quick straw poll of the top 20 operators in Europe (by subscriber) showed that (at the time of writing), only 12 of them mention the roaming changes on their home page. 2 of them mention the changes in featured tweets on the page. The remainder don't mention it. Interestingly all of the 12 that are pro-active appear to position it (outwardly at least) as a benefit of joining their network, rather than legislation.
We can see that there will likely be an uptick in consumer inquiries, both online, chat and phone based by concerned consumers that may not understand the implications and want reassurance of how they will be affected during travel.