EU Roaming Explained Part 3 – More Freedom to Do Business

Ciara O'Reilly
On: 23 Nov 2017
Share this post


The abolition of additional charges for EU roaming was widely anticipated. Now that it has taken effect, the early indications are of a significant increase in mobile use by travellers.

It can only be a good thing for business, but it is still unclear whether everyone has fully realised the benefits yet.

Over a year ago, I was writing about the forthcoming changes to EU roaming charges and wondering what those changes might mean for business travellers within EU states. Now that the changes have happened and have had a few months to bed-in, it seems a good time to review what effect they have had on business communications.

The EU’s removal of roaming surcharges took place on 15th June this year, just in time for the holiday travel season. As there’s obviously a tendency for more people to be outside their SIM card’s “home country” over the summer, there is always a rise in out-of-country use during the season. This occurs not only among personal customers but also business customers, who are presumably on holiday but keeping in touch with the office, hoping to avoid an overflowing inbox when they get back to work. However, this summer the spike in usage reflected an awareness that the roaming charges handcuffs have been removed.

“The roaming charges handcuffs have been removed.”

Far and Away More Usage

With no more extra charges than you would pay at home, it appears more people are leaving their data roaming turned on when they leave the country to go to other EU countries. In fact, many not only left it switched on but actually used their phones more when they were away than they would have done back home.

The most likely explanation is that users in their office or in their home will normally use Wi-Fi for streaming or downloading. Before the roaming charge changes, they would probably have done the same abroad: seeking out free hotel or coffee-shop Wi-Fi despite the potential security risks. Now, with the changes, they feel more comfortable to stream or download without the inconvenience of having to use a free Wi-Fi hotspot.

Taking Control of Charges

The freedom to access data of all kinds, anywhere, also means the freedom to do whatever you want on your phone or other mobile device, wherever you are. For business travellers that means freedom to do your day job anywhere in the EU, without worrying about managing massive costs. It means the ability to prepare a quote or close a sale on the spot, and access all the resources that would normally be at your fingertips, even though you’re hundreds of miles away from your office.

This new freedom is a breath of fresh air for all businesses involved in any EU business travel, though it is noticeable that SOHO businesses have been quicker to take advantage. This may be because in these smaller organisations, the person using the device is more often also the bill payer and able to take the unilateral decision to roam freely. SMEs have been a little more circumspect, and seem more likely to continue to use Wi-Fi where they can find it.

“This is a breath of fresh air for all businesses.”

When is “Free” Not “Free”?

A press release from the EU in April stated that “EU citizens travelling to any other EU Member States will have no roaming charges while making phone calls, texting or surfing online with their mobile phone or device using their home country’s SIM card. The European Commission has successfully worked to remove roaming charges.”

Some of the communications and promotions on the change used the phrase “free from roaming charges” but with “free” being the most prominent word. This terminology may have led users to believe they can make calls and access texts and data throughout the EU at no cost at all – which of course is not the case. What’s been removed is the extra cost that used to apply, so users now only pay the same as they do domestically.

A Boost for Business

One last thing to consider is the issue of Brexit, which hangs over the question of roaming charges as it does over many things. With so many Irish SMEs conducting business with – and travelling for business in – the UK, the hope and expectation is that the UK will wish to maintain their approach to EU roaming.

The abolition of roaming charges is already making life easier and more cost-effective for business travellers and the benefits will only increase. It’s unequivocally a boost for Irish business and business travellers within EU states, wherever they may roam.


Three Business Mobile Plans are packed full of extra value with All You Can Eat Data and 4G. We’ve included UK and International calls and texts, roaming and Irish Based Customer Care.