Call me maybe
Whether at home or abroad: since 2017, you pay the same tariff in the EU for telephone calls and mobile data. What if there were still high roaming charges in countries like Italy?
By Eric Bonse, Brussels
When the European Commission announced for the first time in 2007 that it wanted to lower the roaming tariffs for mobile phones and other mobile devices, it reaped an outcry of outrage. This was planned economy and would slow down the expansion of mobile telephony in Europe, it was said. Politicians and lobbyists resisted the intervention from Brussels.
More than ten years later, the excitement has subsided. Today it goes without saying that mobile phone conversations and video streaming abroad are no more expensive than they are at home. Especially in holiday destinations like Italy you wouldn’t want to miss the transmission of mobile data. But what if the EU and its regulation did not exist?
That would be a nuisance not only for tourists, who would have to expect high roaming charges on every trip abroad or limit their use of mobile phones and tablets. It would also be a problem for particularly mobile-enthusiastic countries like Italy, which have benefited from the final end of roaming charges in June 2017.
If the EU did not exist, Italy would probably relapse to the time before 2007, when foreign calls on the mobile phone were still a luxury
If the EU did not exist, Italy would probably relapse to the time before 2007, when foreign calls on the mobile phone were still a luxury. National authorities could also have to imposed a reduction in roaming charges, but not of course all across Europe, only bilaterally, and therefore probably more slowly.
How mobile phone calls function without the EU is evident in countries like Switzerland or Turkey. If you are on a visit there and want to call someone in his or her home country, you still must pay high roaming charges unless you have agreed on a special tariff with your mobile service provider. In Italy you don’t have to worry about these things – thanks to the EU.