BRUSSELS: The EU scrapped Wednesday a 90-day limit to its landmark free mobile phone roaming policy, promising checks to curb abuse after the initial plan ran into fierce criticism.
“We will not put any kind of limits on duration or, how many days (travelers) can enjoy no roaming surcharges, but we decided to put some clear safeguards on residency,” EU Commissioner for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip said at a news briefing.
The commission announced the original “free roaming” plans with huge fanfare in early 2015, but when it unveiled the details earlier this month consumer groups were outraged by a limit of 90 days of free roaming per year.
They had assumed the Commission’s pledge to end mobile roaming charges—additional costs when people use their phone outside their home country—meant exactly that, without conditions or caveats.
As a result, they responded angrily to the 90-day “fair use” limit, charging that Brussels had caved in to the powerful telecoms companies for whom roaming charges have long been a lucrative source of extra income.
Instead of time limits, the new Commission proposal will allow operators to crackdown on people whose phone usage abroad “significantly” outweighs their domestic calls.
It will also allow mobile operators to cancel SIM cards found to be used almost exclusively abroad.
The Commission’s proposal now goes to the EU’s 28 national regulators for negotiation, in order for the plan to be implemented by June 15 next year as originally promised. AFP