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Europeans start to roam like at home

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Europeans start to roam like at home

Photo-© moggara12 - Fotolia

(BRUSSELS) - Europeans are aware of new EU mobile roaming rules and have started changing their habits when travelling abroad, a survey conducted after the first summer without the charges shows.

Since 15 June Europeans are able to use their mobile phones (calls, SMS and data) when travelling in the EU without paying extra roaming charges. This means travellers can use their phone abroad exactly like at home when they travel, without any fear of high phone bills.

According to a Flash Eurobarometer survey published today, a large majority of Europeans recognise the benefits of roaming without extra charges.

The survey shows that 71% of Europeans are aware that roaming charges have ended and 72% think they, or someone they know, will benefit. Awareness of the new rules rises to 86% amongst those who have travelled since 15 June.

The survey took place at the end of August, after the main holiday period. The results show that during this summer – the first without extra roaming charges for travellers in the EU – people have started to change their behaviour when using their mobile phones abroad:

  • The share of travellers who used their mobile data while roaming as often as at home doubled among those who had travelled after 15 June 2017 (31%) compared to the ones who had travelled during the months before (15%);
  • The share of travellers who never used mobile data abroad halved after 15 June (21%) compared to the months preceding that date (42%);
  • In general, restrictive mobile use abroad is diminishing with less travellers switching off their phones (12%) as compared to before 15 June (20%);
  • However, compared to mobile phone use in their home country, 60% of travellers still restricted their mobile phone use when travelling in another EU country since 15 June 2017.

The impact of the end of roaming charges on travellers' phone use abroad is also confirmed in comparison with a Eurobarometer survey from 2014 which had shown even more restrictive roaming usage patterns as during the months before 15 June 2017.

Mobile operators can already see the change in travellers' behaviour in their networks. Several operators reported an important rise in data traffic due to travellers, which has multiplied several times this summer compared to summer 2016 (by 3 to 6 times, in some cases even more). While some of this increase reflects general year-on-year growth in data consumption in domestic markets, a substantial part can be attributed to the new roaming rules. The rise of roaming calls, although less marked, is also significant. In response, mobile operators in touristic areas report important investments in their networks to seize the opportunity presented by the increased demand from travellers.

After the first summer without extra roaming charges, it appears that in general mobile operators comply with the new rules. The Commission says it will, in cooperation with national regulators, continue to monitor developments on mobile markets in Member States to make sure operators continue to follow the new rules and consumers benefit from the end of roaming charges.

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