Roaming in Europe?
July 20, 2009 8:38 AM   Subscribe

[CellPhoneFilter] How does international roaming work in Europe?

I know that here in the States, if I travel overseas to the EU I am considered "internationally roaming" and end up paying larger fees for voice and data usage than I would at home. In Europe, where you have to travel a much shorter distance to move from country to country, are the same rules in effect? Do the carriers have networks that spread to different countries? (i.e. if I am on Carrier A in France and Carrier A has a presence in Spain, am I roaming if my home MCC is set to France and I am in Spain?)

Sorry if this is a loaded question!
posted by trokair to Technology (6 answers total)
Its an interesting time to ask this question. Yes, there are/have been excessive roaming charges from country to country but the European Commision has now stepped in and set standard rates.
posted by vacapinta at 8:49 AM on July 20, 2009

Until about a couple of years ago it was painful as travelling across Europe was just like International roaming. Recently due to pressure from the European Union, operators have been forced to cut roaming costs. So roaming costs are very low in most of Europe particularly calling your 'home country'. We havent quite reached the exact setup as your example but closesest we have is Vodafone which is offering zero cost roaming across all its networks in 31 countries (for this summer). My guess is that this may be the shape of things to come. Vodafone is the biggest network in Europe (and the world) so I dont think that any one other company will be able to better this kind of setup but other kinds of alliances are likely to develop.

As far as I know this setup does not apply to data. And, as a downside the operators are constantly pushing up prices for non-EU roaming to make up the lost revenue.

Hope this helps.
posted by london302 at 8:50 AM on July 20, 2009

It works exactly the same. I'm in the UK, and if I go to Spain, or the US, or South Africa, it's all 'International roaming'. The costs will vary due to the differences in fees charged by different networks from different countries, but broadly, it's all 'roaming'.

Now, whether they're actually justified in charging 150 - 600% more for exactly the same (or often degraded) service when they've long since paid off the investment cost of their networks and have been into pure profit for donkeys is another question. The cost to a UK network to send a text message is somewhere in the hundredths of pence, but they'll happily charge you 20/30p in the UK and a quid a pop abroad.
posted by Happy Dave at 8:53 AM on July 20, 2009

Shoulda previewed, these dudes have better/more recent information than me.
posted by Happy Dave at 8:54 AM on July 20, 2009

I called my carrier (AT&T) and was able to add International access for the UK just for a month. Call charges will still be high, but no roaming.
posted by theora55 at 2:15 PM on July 20, 2009

It all depends on which countries you are going to travel to and which operator you would buy your SIM card from. For example, AFAIK Swedish carriers are the cheapest and French are the most expensive in the EU. If you carry a SIM card of Swedish carrier Tele2 and roam around in EU then you won't pay much but if you carry a SIM card of say Orange, France then it will be darn expensive to call within France itself, forget EU, seconding opinion by Happy Dave. Certainly the call costs reduce if you have contract rather than Pay As You Go, you will not get contract though as you are not resident of the EU country.
Things have certainly changed over the period of time, its CERTAINLY not as expensive as using US carrier's SIM in the EU.
May be you should drop a line on countries you are visiting and you will receive very specific (and rather useful)replies.
posted by zaxour at 12:16 AM on July 21, 2009

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