July 27, 2015
The European Union (EU) has existed, while not in the current format or name, since the 1950s, and now has 28 member states who agree and are united in several matters, like currency (the Euro is used by 19 of those 28 countries), absence of borders (the Schengen Area now comprises 26 European countries where EU citizens can travel from and to freely without passport), and so on.
However, some other things are not as unified as they (theoretically, at least) should be, as several aspects of the EU countries and citizens are not standardized. Nowadays, one of those aspects has been under the spotlight, as Greece’s economic and financial crisis makes the treatment and financial laws throughout countries stand out. But one of the most clear examples of that lack of standardization has to do with cell phone roaming.
Currently, there is not an absolutely unified way of dealing with roaming inside the EU, as prices vary according to countries and carriers, despite the existence, since 2007, of regulations regarding the price caps that can be charged. But the true revolution will come in June 2017, as from that point on there will be no roaming at all.
14 months before that, carriers will still charge some cell phone roaming fees, which will be very low (€0.05 per minute for calls, €0.02 per SMS and €0.05 per megabyte of data used), but from June 2017 prices will be the same regardless of the country where the phone is being used.
While that date is not here, there are some other ways of dealing with Europe roaming charges without having to pay the exaggerated fees charged nowadays, which are especially high for using mobile data abroad. For example, MTX Connect is a data-only mobile virtual network operator that provides travelers in Europe a pre-paid SIM card – this card delivers mobile broadband internet access over 3G throughout the continent but, instead of charging per megabyte of data used, it charges flat rates.
Truthfully, it does offer the option of paying per megabyte, at a €0.10/megabyte rate. Other plans offer 100MB (valid for 24 hours) for €3.50, 24 hours worth of (unlimited) data for €9.99 and 1GB valid for 30 days, for €49.99. It is now available in 32 states and is set to come soon to Belarus, Moldova, Montenegro, Norway, Slovenia, and Switzerland.
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