Major Changes Coming to Wireless Networks in Europe and Beyond
Major changes are coming to cell phone plans and data rates soon that will make many people quite happy. Last June, the European Commission voted to completely scrap roaming fees while traveling within the continent starting in 2017. In the meantime, roaming charges are capped at €0.20 (22 cents) per megabyte of data, €0.60 per text, and €0.50 a minute per call.
The new initiative comes with a preventative measure to ensure consumers don't abuse the free roaming privileges. According to new guidelines, roaming will only be free up to 30 days at a time, for a total of 90 days a year. This is designed to prevent people from buying a SIM card in a country with cheaper data rates and then using it in their home country. However, those who travel for work and travelers that stay in any given European country for less than a month are exempt from these measures. As for non-European citizens, it's unclear if the removal of roaming fees also applies to travelers coming in from outside of the EU who purchase a SIM card once they've arrived, but it's possible that US-based visitors could benefit as well.
US carriers have also been making attempts to eliminate some roaming fees and unify wireless networks as well. Google’s Project Fi, which launched in the US in April 2015, uses cell towers from Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Three (a Europe-based network) to create a seamless, roaming-fee free wireless network. Project Fi works in over 135 countries to provide data and unlimited text messages at low rates.
The US and Europe aren’t the only places seeing major overhauls to wireless networks. On Monday, India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, launched the largest nationwide 4G carrier called Jio, and it comes with an amazing perk — free monthly plans for anyone through the rest of 2016. When customers have to begin paying for their service next year, plans will start at just ₹149 ($2.50) a month. This is a huge win for middle-class and poorer customers, as India is known for exceptionally poor coverage coupled with high prices across the country.
Wireless networks all across the world are making customer-friendly changes. With the omission of roaming charges in Europe and the expansion of Jio in India, savvy travelers won’t have to dig as deep into their pockets to stay connected around the globe.