Mobile roaming charges come into play when you use your phone outside Ireland. When you are in another country – your calls, texts and data are routed through a local telecoms provider’s network, instead of your home network.
Up until a couple of years ago – some of these roaming charges could be at a vastly increased cost.
From June 2017 all mobile roaming charges within the EU – including Ireland and the UK – will be stopped. From that date you will pay the same amount for calls , texts and data anywhere in the EU as you pay here in Ireland.
Roaming charges in the EU have gradually been reduced since 2007 – and from April 30th 2016 they have been amended again.
Roaming in the EU before April 30th 2016
Prior to April 30th 2016 – your phone company did not have to deduct any of your roaming consumption from any of your bundled inclusive services. They could charge their normal “out of bundle” charges plus an additional roaming charge capped at the following rates : 19c per call minute, 6c per text , 20c per Mb
New Roaming Charging Rules in the EU from May 2016
From May 2016 the new levels of EU roaming charges are supposed to be based on the price of the service that you would pay at home in Ireland – with a roaming surcharge added.
Data Roaming – per Mb : Price in Ireland plus 6.1.5c
Outgoing Calls : Price in Ireland plus 6.15c
Incoming Calls : 1.4c
Texts Sent : Price in Ireland plus 2.46c
All these charges are including VAT
These new charges should mean a reduction in overall roaming costs for most people – but as you will see below , the way some phone companies have implemented it will mean that some roaming charges will be higher from April 30th.
Any usage whilst roaming should first be deducted from any inclusive services. So , if you have 500 call minutes on your contract/bundle and you make a 5 minute call from say Spain to Ireland – your maximum charge should be 25c plus VAT (5 min at 5c per min) and your remaining call minutes will fall by 5 minutes.
There seems to be some confusion over the maximum charges allowed . This document published by the European Commission states that …. “From 30 April 2016 onwards, the roaming fee equal to domestic price + €0.05 may not exceed €0.19 for voice and €0.20 for data. The roaming fee equal to domestic price + €0.02 may not exceed €0.06 for SMS.”
But this maximum charge isn’t mentioned in several other documents and press releases from the EU commission.
This wording appears to mean that a provider should not charge more than 19c per min plus VAT for calls made when outside Ireland . So – if a provider currently charges 35c per min for “domestic” calls here in Ireland – it could be interpreted that the provider should only charge 19c per min whilst roaming . This would be strange – because it would mean the customer would be charged less while roaming !
Three Ireland have interpreted it sightly differently : They say – “where the operator applies the surcharge, the total of the domestic rate plus roaming surcharge will be capped at the regulated rates. However, where operators do not add a surcharge, the domestic only rate shall apply and the caps are not applicable.”
It appears that the majority of Irish telecoms providers are doing it this way and just not adding any roaming charges if their domestic charge is already greater than or equal to the EU cap. For example – if 25c per min is the domestic rate – then the roaming rate will be the 25c per min same because it is already greater that the 19c cap.
Tesco Mobile also seem to be following this method (see here) . Their normal call charge for prepay and out of plan calls is 30c/min. Prior to April 30th , Tesco charged a roaming rate of 23c per min for calls (19c plus VAT). From Apr 30th they are charging 30c .
But iD Mobile seem to be following the regulations and capping their out of bundle and PAYG roaming charges at 19c per min ex VAT (see here). Their normal PAYG and out of bundle call charge is 35c per minute – but if you a roaming with them you will pay less (19c + Vat = 23.3c)
Billpay customers with Tesco now have a “fair usage” roaming policy when roaming within the EU. This so called fair usage allowance is only 30 call mins, 30 SMS and 30 MB of data per month !
Usage under this allowance is charged at the EU roaming surcharge i.e 6.15c per minute for outgoing voice calls, 1.4c per minute to receive a call, 2.46c per text and 6.15c per MB for data. But – when a Tesco Mobile customer exceeds these fair usage roaming allowances, they will be charged 30c per minute to make outbound calls, 1.4c per minute to receive a call, 14c per text and 8.15c per MB when using data.
It won’t take long for someone on holiday to use 30 minutes of calls and to start being chanrged at 30c per minute. With all the publicity about reduced roaming charges – some Tesco Mobile Ireland billpay customers might assume the roaming charges would be 6.15c all the time. But they might get a bigger bill than they were expecting after a trip to the UK or Europe.
This restrictive fair usage policy can’t be right – and Tesco Mobile customers should question it or go to another provider.
Maybe COMREG should be looking into this and telling them all exactly what to do ? We have raised a query with Comreg and await a reply.