Vodafone UK became the latest European operator to announce it will not charge extra fees on top of domestic tariffs when customers are roaming, in a total of 40 destinations worldwide.
The company said the offer applies to new and upgrading subscribers to postpaid Vodafone Red and Red Value bundles, and will include unlimited calls, texts and picture messages, and a monthly data allowance of up to 4 GB.
The message of "worry-free" roaming or "roam-like-home" services has become a rallying cry of mobile operators in the European Union as they look towards a future in which roaming fees will be abolished.
The European Commission has been gradually reducing the caps on roaming fees across the European Union. The latest reduction took effect from the end of April, with the prices that mobile operators can charge on top of their domestic offerings capped at €0.05 per minute on outgoing calls, €0.02 per SMS sent, and €0.05 per MB of data.
The commission is now pursuing the well-publicised objective of eliminating charges altogether from mid-June 2017. As is now the case with Vodafone UK, many operators have already pre-empted this move. Tesco Mobile in the UK said last week that its new Home From Home service would remove additional roaming fees this summer. Three UK and France's Free Mobile also promote mobile plans with inclusive use abroad.
Vodafone UK's prices start from £18 (€22.86/$26.13) for 500 MB of inclusive roaming within an overall data allowance of 2 GB. To get the full 4 GB roaming allowance, users will need to pay £32 for a 12 GB plan. Three UK, meanwhile, allows all-you-can-eat data users to take up to 12 GB abroad with no extra charge.
Mobile virtual network operators have also called for changes to be made to wholesale roaming rates, not just retail rates.
MVNO Europe, a coalition of MVNOs and "progressive" MNOs, said it welcomed the cuts and eventual abolition of retail roaming surcharges, but noted that regulated wholesale roaming caps also need to be reduced to allow all operators to compete on the market.
The coalition warned that a great deal of work still needs to be done by the European Commission, European Parliament and Council to deliver on the political promise to achieve roam-like-at-home across Europe by June 15, 2017.
- see this Vodafone UK release
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