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EU will force telcos to offer 90 days of 'roam like home' contracts

Max continuous use of 30 days, may not apply to UK

The European Union has published draft plans to force telcos across the EU to offer customers free roaming for at least 90 days a year.

Last year the EU decided to abolish roaming fees from June 2017, after years of negotiations with European telcos.

But today the plans contain a "fair usage" concession which mean users can only take advantage of the "roam like home" agreement for a maximum of 30 consecutive days – and for a total of 90 throughout the year.

That is intended to prevent people abusing the arrangement by buying a contract in a country that offers cheaper rates and permanently using that deal.

Research from analyst firm Juniper found that in 2015 UK mobile operators made $3.8bn (£2.7bn) in mobile roaming revenues, out of total sales of $26.3bn (£18.4bn).

However, assuming Theresa May sticks to her promise that "Brexit means Brexit" once Blighty leaves the EU, UK operators will not have to abide by the rules if they go into force.

According to research from economics and financial consultancy Oxera, that could benefit operators by up £750m per year from 2018 as they will no longer have to adhere to the EU rules.

A formal exit will take two years to come into effect once Article 50 is triggered. But politicians do not seem eager particularly eager to press the red button, which makes it likely that UK consumers will benefit from the plans for a little while at least.

The EU draft regulations stated: “Data on travelling patterns across the Union indicate that a fair use policy enabling roaming customers to use regulated retail roaming services at the applicable domestic price for at least 90 days in any one year would cover virtually all communications needs of Union customers travelling periodically for holidays and professional purposes.” ®

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