The beginning of an era of free communication movement of people

by Martina Pastor, Erwei Chen, Mingxin Jiang and Bernhard Franz

People were cheering in the streets of Brussels when on 15th of Juny 2017 the EU roaming fees were abolished. This historic landmark in EU communication policy changes not only „the game“ so to speak, but also the lives of over 500 million people. Daily. Think of those who need to call their home to get a sign from their children while they are on vacation. Even those who are sharing their beach holidays on social media can be very happy. Or Business People, stuck in traffic in an other EU country – It is the end of mobile roaming fees in the European Union and therefore the beginning of a new way of being able to talk, to communicate. But many people in the EU do not even know – what is roaming and how does getting rid of it affect their lives – so let’s begin by clearing up a few things:

What is Roaming?
The term roaming stands for the mobile phone use abroad, where the own home network is not available. Roaming thus includes all calls that are made or received abroad but also the SMS & MMS dispatch and data usage abroad. The roaming regulation applies in all EU countries as well as Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland.

Roaming as a way of regulating international Communication has been widely adopted throughout the twentieth century. The United States of America started this practice in the 1960’s, as Trade Relations with european Countries grew stronger; nowadays, the whole world is regulated through the media business practice of Roaming. So what exactly did the European Union accomplish?

The Achievement

EU regulation ensures that customers can use the domestic  rate in all EU countries for holiday and business travel. However, it is not allowed to consume all its data and telephony contingent abroad. The EU Roaming Regulation applies to all roaming rates, whether it is a contract with or without commitment. Excluded are only rates that did not include roaming. Abuses are, for example, if you moved from Austria to Germany and continued your domestic rate just as before without changing it. Many mobile phone providers have apps which clearly show both, the availability of data volume in Austria and the coverage in the whole European Union. Thus, the customer has a precise overview of the available units in Austria and in the EU. In addition, the customer will be informed by SMS once the entire EU data volume has been completely used up.

Let’s suppose an example: You are workingin Italy and have to call a work colleague who’s currently on a business trip abroad, too..let’s make that…the Netherlands – THIS call will be contingent of the included roaming. And when you are in your home, back in good old Austria and make a call abroad, EU roaming is not included.

This is foreign telephony and therefore not covered by the EU regulation. Calls from Austria in this instance to foreign countries are not roaming and cost exactly as much as before on the 15th of June.


In summary, the abolition of roaming fees is a big advantage for consumers. The free movement of people – one of the four pillars of european Integration, a fixed set of principles, stated by the European Union – now includes the free movement of Communication of People in the EU, which makes living abroad in EU territory easier, helps the european Integration process and is a boost for the Marketing of the EU.  


The regulation is a disadvantage for small providers, because they have to buy the data packages expensively abroad, while for international mobile operators, the costs remain in the company. For example, one GB of data costs 7.70€ abroad, while it is just around 1.70€ in Austria. After the regulation I expect the costs for HoT to be tremendously higher than before and also the use of data abroad to increase sixfold.

Historic Scale of media policy – a Comparison with China

To see how impactful the newly adopted EU Roaming Abolishement really is, we now turn to the Situation in another Power in the World: China, more precisely: Domestic long-distance call charges in China.

First off: China still has roaming fees between provinces. But this is now (looking at the EU Initiative) on the verge of becoming a thing of the past: The country’s three telecom carriers in China, China Mobile Communications, China United Network Communications Group and China Telecommunications Corp, announced steps to scrap domestic long-distance and roaming charges from October 1, 2017, a move to drive forward industrial transformation and boast the upgrading and adjustment of real economy.

Li Yue, president of China Mobile, the country’s largest telecom operator said the domestic roaming charges account for 8 to 10 percent of its total revenue, removal of such fees will have an influence on the company, adding this will encourage China Mobile to improve operation and management efficiency.

China Unicom said it will increase the coverage of broadband access, develop innovative applications, and upgrade products and services in response to the initiative of “increasing broadband access speed and reducing tariff” by the authority.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) will push forward the initiative with more effective measures.

“We will strive to remove completely the domestic long-distance and roaming tariffs for mobile users, greatly reduce the tariff for international long-distance call and dedicated internet access price for small- and medium-sized enterprises”, said Chen Zhaoxiong, vice-minister of industry and information technology.

International Cooperation

China Mobile said it would also reduce rates for international phone calls, particularly to 64 countries along the Belt and Road Initiative.

 The move will push telecom carriers to seek new sources of business growth, including cloud computing and big data.

The ministry will make efforts to regulate the tariff-setting behaviors of enterprises, promote healthy market competition and continue to improve market environment of telecommunications.



So we can see that China is also taking steps in becoming a free communication country, without roaming fees and service charges. This step is certainly going to increase free flow of communication and can serve as a basis of stable growth in the economy. The EU however took the first charge and is now a beacon of hope for change for the rest of the world. Therefore, thank you EU – you’ve done well (on this part.).