European Commission fails customers. EU data roaming decision goes into reverse.

This past year I’ve travelled around Europe quite a bit and the data roaming and connectivity costs are just insane. We were promised by the European Commission that this would all be sorted out soon enough.

Now I don’t care who I upset, this is a massive cash cow and we all know it. Networks know it, and they can go on about “wholesale costs” as much as they want, it’s really not costing as much as they say to deliver a call or data connection when you’re abroad.

So, we all welcomed news in April that the EU would scrap all roaming charges in December this year. Brilliant news. It could be said that since that news came out, networks have tweaked prices elsewhere to make up for the expected shortfall, but now it looks like regulators are performing a massive U-turn and dropping the ban on roaming charges anyway. Double win for the networks.

European Commission fails customers. EU data roaming decision goes into reverse.

Documents seen by the BBC reveal that..

Far from ending data roaming charges as was promised, the European Commission has recommended that operators be allowed to add surcharges to their domestic rates.

The new new proposals seem to now allow data roaming charges to continue until at least 2018. Then, and only then, will something be done about it. Maybe.

Yes, many networks have “daily roaming packages” but it’s a bit of a minefield with differing prices for some networks, different rules on when packages start and end plus you have to remember to actually buy the package each day or each week. If you’re on an MVNO then, well, good luck my friend.

What we’d like to see is more offers like Three, who just say, “if you’re going to one of these countries, just use your phone like you do at home, don’t worry about it”. Less stress, less hassle, and the customers can get on with their holiday or business trip without mucking about having to activate some special plan.

Three have jumped all over this news (obviously) to tell us that 1.3 million of their customers now enjoy roaming at no extra cost. A spokesman told us…

Roaming charges are unfair and (we) have been leading the way when it comes to international roaming since 2013. Our Feel at Home service covers the most popular travel destinations in Europe and means that our customers avoid unfair costs that come from calling, texting and using the internet abroad.

Their service will see Spain and New Zealand coming into the “Feel at Home” system on April 1st, meaning that some 65% of their customers won’t have to worry about add-on packages, crazy prices or faffing about when they go abroad.

Seriously. European Commission. Sort this rubbish out.