The EU has scrapped mobile roaming charges from today, meaning that using a smartphone for calls, text and internet away in Europe will cost no more than using it at home.
The new “Roam Like Home” legislation effectively bans service providers from adding extra charges to mobile calls, text messages and downloads made on phones registered in one EU country and used in another.
It was brought in to prevent consumers receiving huge bills after downloading films or other data while travelling in Europe.
However, the regulations only apply to roaming (i.e. if you are in another EU country and not your own), not to calling EU countries from the UK and prices vary significantly.
For example, calling Spain from the UK can cost between 9p with provider Giffgaff and £1.50 per minute on O2.
Exceeding agreed minutes, texts and data will still be charged in the EU as it would in the UK, with all providers charging different rates.
A decade in the making, the move comes in time for the summer holidays when millions of Europeans will be on the move, and is a public relations coup at a time when the bloc is under fire over Brexit and other problems.
“The European Union is about bringing people together and making their lives easier. The end of roaming charges is a true European success story,” European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker and European Parliament head Antonio Tajani said in a statement.
“From now on, citizens who travel within the EU will be able to call, text and connect on their mobile devices at the same price as they pay at home. Eliminating roaming charges is one of the greatest and most tangible successes of the EU.”
The European Commission estimates the end of roaming fees will cost European telecom operators 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion).