Being able to use the internet and all data-dependent services free of charge in foreign countries is one of the major advantages of living in and traveling around Europe. The EU first introduced its roaming regulation, which allows European citizens to visit other EU countries and use their phones as if they’re at home back, in 2012. On Wednesday, it announced that it wants to extend the roaming regulation for another 10 years when it expires in 2022.
Not only is the EU proposing to extend free roaming, but it wants to improve it too. Under the updated set of rules, people will be entitled to ensure they receive the same data speeds they’re paying for at home when they’re abroad. That means if you’re paying for 5G in one country, a foreign network won’t be able to limit you to 4G while you’re traveling if it can provide you with 5G connectivity.
The updated regulation also says that people should be able to easily contact local emergency services when abroad. Travelers should be informed of how to do this, including what services are available for phone users with disabilities. International helplines should also be free to travelers, and if extra costs will be incurred, operators should provide sufficient information to people about this up front, says the EU.
“Millions of Europeans have been enjoying the benefits of roaming throughout the EU at no extra charges,” said Thierry Breton, European commissioner for the internal market, in a statement. The European Union’s roaming regulation is, he added, “an established and successful cornerstone of the single market.”
The new rules will apply to all EU states, but not the UK. Ever since Brexit, free roaming is no longer guaranteed in Europe for British citizens. Most UK networks have said they have no plans to remove free roaming for customers, but this could change in the future. Official government advice is to check your mobile operator’s roaming policy before traveling abroad.