Tomorrow, the new European legislation enters into force which aims to abolish roaming charges in the European Union. Scarlet already abolished its roaming charges in the European Union in May 2016, one year ahead of all other Belgian operators.
For one year, therefore, its customers have already been using the calls, texts and data included in their subscription throughout the European Union at no extra charge.
Here are the findings from this year of free roaming in the European Union
- The average mobile phone/smartphone usage in the European Union is 10 days per year.
- The main destination in terms of roaming is France, closely followed by the Netherlands and Luxembourg.
- Usage in the European Union has literally skyrocketed among Scarlet users since the roaming charges were abolished. And it is mobile Internet which shows the greatest increase (see infographic). Bruno Delhaise, Scarlet’s Managing Director, had the following to say about this increase: ‘We found that Belgians had a real fear of being landed with an unpleasant surprise on their telecom bill upon returning from their travels abroad. Since Scarlet abolished roaming charges in the European Union last year, our customers have been taking full advantage of their mobile throughout the EU, and their average mobile Internet usage has more than quadrupled’. Mobile Internet usage per user is even 10% higher than in Belgium. Bruno Delhaise continued: ‘Travels abroad are rather intense times for families and business people, and these days finding your way, sharing photos and videos with your friends, listening to music and watching films is all possible on mobile devices whilst on the move. It is therefore not surprising that mobile data usage is higher than at home. Another explanation for this is the lack of, or difficulty connecting to, a Wi-Fi network while on the move.
- As for calls and text messages, there is no marked increase. There are two explanations for this: first, the prices of calls and texts have always been easier to estimate than the number of MB of an Internet connection. Second, mobile Internet now increasingly meets people’s communication needs and in some situations can serve as a substitute for calls or texts.
- Not surprisingly, the times of the year when usage peaks is in summer, the Easter holidays and then the Carnival holidays.
Good news for Scarlet customers
Last year Scarlet decided to introduce a safeguard with an annual limit fixed at 45 days of free roaming per year. Only a few customers found themselves in this situation but these are mainly customers living near the French, Dutch, Luxembourgish or German border. Scarlet has decided not to apply any surcharges to these customers, leaving them to benefit fully from their subscription no matter where they are.
But that’s not all; on 15 June this contractual limit will be scrapped and no other specific limit will be introduced in its place (the use of roaming is reserved for reasonable use only in the sense of the European regulation).