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Could the EU be ditching roaming charges altogether?

Now before you scratch the roaming add-on from your current contract, a move like this could well take years to implement if it ever happens at all, but mobile users within the EU could see the notion of roaming charges disappear completely, provided you stay within the 27 countries potentially working towards a solution to created a united mobile service.

According to the Financial Times, Europe’s four largest telecommunications companies, alongside Joaquin Almunia – Chief of EU Competition met to discuss the notion of a unified cross-European mobile carrier which could effectively operate under the same principles from country to country, eliminating roaming charges. The likes of Deutsche Telekom (parent company of T-Mobile), France Telecom (parent company of Orange), Telecom Italia and Telefónica (parent company of O2) have been said to be “intent on exploring the idea,” although the likelihood of any plans relating to this being set into motion seem somewhat unlikely, at least for the time being.

EU Flag. Image Credits: Bulgarian Government website

The trick is to navigate a system which affects not only 27 separate countries; each with their own regulatory bodies, but the 100’s of mobile carriers, some of which are independently operating within those countries. As pointed out by an associate of the FT, “the operators expressed a deep sense of frustration and agreed to bring constructive ideas of how a European market could work. Objections won’t come from Europe, they will be from the [EU’s 27 national] regulators.

Comparatively, global entities like the US and China operate on an equally vast scale but only have to deal with three of four major carriers for the whole of their respective mobile infrastructures. In short, we can’t know for sure whether an idea like this will ever take flight, but the fact that it’s been considered at all at the very least promises that the shape of international mobile usage will change significantly in the not-too-distant future.


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