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Broadband, Phone & TV

A guide to the EU's "Roam like at home" rules

Robyn Hamilton

Robyn Hamilton

Content Marketing Specialist

Today is the day! After months and even years of waiting, today the 15th of June 2017, finally sees the abolishment of punitive mobile roaming charges across the European Union. The change comes in the form of a new set of rules set out by the European Commission which have been dubbed “roam like at home”.

Here at bonkers.ie, we’ve been following the developments and what they will mean for Irish mobile customers closely over the last couple of months. What follows is your one-stop-shop guide for everything to do with EU roaming, post-June 15th. First of all…

What exactly is "roam like at home"?

The new “roam-like-at-home” rules state that EU mobile customers will be able to make voice calls and send SMS messages as they would domestically from June 15th, without incurring any extra charges. Data usage however, will be restricted for some customers (dependant on plan type) as data limits will be subject to fair usage policies.

Critics of "roam like at home" have been quick to point out that given data usage is restricted, calling the new rules “roam like at home” is disingenuous but the huge leap that the new rules make should not be discounted, especially if we look at the historical context.

History of EU roaming charges:

Voice calls (per min)

SMS sent

Data (per 1MB)

2007

€0.49

2008

€0.28

2007

€6.00

2012

€0.29

2012

€0.09

2012

€0.70

2015

€0.19

2015

€0.06

2015

€0.20

2016

Domestic price + up to €0.05

2016

Domestic price + up to €0.02

2016

Domestic price + up to €0.05

2017

Domestic Price

2017

Domestic Price

2017

Domestic Price*

*Subject to fair usage restrictions.

The chart above shows just how far roaming prices have gone down in recent years. In accordance with the new regulations, a loose way of calculating your allowance states that for every €10 you spend on your credit/bill should translate to around 2GB of data roaming allowance (although this varies from network to network and plan to plan, see here for a more detailed method of how to calculate your EU data roaming allowance).

Ten years ago 2GB of data would have translated to a €12,000 bill! Even just five years ago 2GB would have cost you €1,400.

From today, if you exceed your data roaming allowance the most you can be charged is €7.70 (+VAT) per Gb and there is a worldwide total cap of €50 (+VAT). It's easy to see we've come a long way. 

How much data do I really need?

Data can be confusing as often it can be difficult to figure out how much you need when you don’t know which applications require a lot of data to use. Such unfamiliarity has led to shock bills for many of us in the past. In fact, in a survey we recently carried out, 43.4% of customers reported that they experienced shock bills after a trip abroad. It all begs the question…  

Which applications use the most data*?

Light data use:

  • WhatsApp -  as long as your messages are predominantly text based, you’ll use 5-10Mb per hour of use.

  • Google Maps -  uses just under 1mb for every three kilometres you travel so you will be able to cover 300km for about 100Mb.

  • Spotify - uses about 32Mb per hour of audio.

Medium data use:

  • FaceTime - an hour’s worth of calls will use about 85Mb of data.

  • General browsing - The amount of data you use while browsing the web will depend on what type of sites you visit and how graphic-heavy they are but generally an hour’s worth of browsing will require around 60Mb of data.

  • Scrolling through your newsfeed - should use around 80Mb per hour.

Heavy data use:

  • Video streaming - unsurprisingly, video streaming is the worst culprit when it comes to data usage. For quick reference: low quality video: 1Gb = 4 hours streaming, medium quality video: 1Gb = 2 hours streaming and high quality video: 1Gb = 1 hour streaming.

  • Snapchat - Snapchat is a big data eater! Sending or receiving just one Snap will use about 1Mb of data and if you spend an hour on the app, you will use 160Mb.

  • Instagram - like Snapchat, Instagram is a heavy offender. If you spend an hour on the app uploading pics, scrolling through your feed and posting the odd Instagram story, you will use in excess of 500Mb of data in an hour.

*Reference for figures: The Irish Times

How to calculate your data roaming limit

Your network operator should notify you today of the new rules, if they haven’t done so already. They should let you know what your data roaming limit is but don’t worry if they haven’t yet!

We’ve carried out a network comparison of how much data each operator is allocating, or if you’d rather calculate for yourself how much data you should be allocated according to EU regulations, see our article on how to calculate your EU roaming limit.

Mobile Roaming Week on bonkers.ie

It’s Mobile Roaming Week here at bonkers.ie from the 12th-16th of June. We’re taking a deep dive into everything roaming and we’ll be hosting a Facebook live Q&A at 1pm on Friday, June 16th.

To have your question answered live on bonkers.ie, just tweet us using #askbonkers, email us at hello@bonkers.ie or leave a comment below this piece.

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