Europe is putting an end to the roaming fees that can quickly add up on a consumer's wireless bill, but before that happens, the charges will first be capped. Beginning April 30th, roaming charges across the European Union can be no higher than €0.05 per minute for outgoing voice calls, €0.02 for texts, and €0.05 per megabyte for data usage (VAT excluded). That shakes out to around 25 percent of the current maximum cap for voice and data, and 33 percent of the existing roaming cap on SMS, according to the European Commission These caps will remain in place until June of next year, when roaming fees will be abolished completely. More specifically, as of June 15th, 2017, it'll be illegal for Europe's telecoms to hit customers with roaming fees; they must instead charge the same prices that calls, texting, and data would cost locally.
It's all an effort to prevent bill shock when people are traveling and not being mindful that everyday tasks like browsing the web, checking Facebook, or sending email can cost way more money. Even with these caps factored in, it's still possible to run up some significant costs if you're streaming Netflix or Spotify, so you'll definitely want to stick to Wi-Fi for the heavy stuff. EU Commissioner Gunther Oettinger has said that "roaming charges will be soon old memories," but for those of us here in the United States, they remain alive and well.
So sure, this is about saving consumers money, but also (hopefully) ending the habit of putting your smartphone in airplane mode when you're on vacation. "Roaming charges currently teach users to switch off their mobile phone when abroad," the Commission says in its explainer. "If they are not afraid of their bills anymore, they will use their devices more regularly when they are travelling — this means more opportunities for online businesses and start-ups to provide services to consumers when they travel in the EU."