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We’ve all read the horror stories of holidaymakers racking up thousands of pounds worth of charges while using their data roaming abroad – one woman faced charges of up to £3,000 when she came home from a trip away.

Well, this is all set to change thanks to new legislation voted in by members of the European Parliament (EP). The EP has agreed to end data roaming charges by mid-2017, with charges dropping significantly by next summer.

New legislation

Mobile phone users won’t be charged any more than they would do in the UK when making calls, sending text messages and using data in the EU from 15th June 2017.

As of 30th April next year, roaming charges will become much cheaper with operators only being able to charge a small additional fee to domestic prices of up to €0.05 (3p) a minute, €0.02 (1p) a text and €0.05 (3p) per MB of data – excluding VAT. The European Commission has said that the cap would make roaming within the EU 75 per cent cheaper from April onwards. Under new net neutrality rules, mobile users across the EU will also be able to access the content they wish to, without being unfairly blocked or slowed down.

This new legislation is put in place to partly prevent holidaymakers being caught out by unexpected bills when using their data on abroad. However, critics suggest that this could simply lead to mobile phone companies increasing their prices, even for people that don’t travel.

Data roaming charges

If you’re unaware of the costs that currently come with using your data abroad, they can be quite high. For example, with Vodafone you’ll be charged 19.8p per MB used while travelling in the EU. For the rest of the world and the US it’s £3 per MB for the first 5MB and £15 per 5MB after that. Alternative network provider giffgaff charges 17p per MB in the EU and £5 per MB for the rest of the world and the USA. Other network providers charge similar fees.

If you’re planning on heading to an EU country before the ban comes into place or travel outside of the EU frequently, avoid data roaming charges by doing the following:

1) Use free Wi-Fi: this one should be a given, there’s loads of apps like WhatsApp, Skype and Viber that you can use if you want to stay in touch with your friends and family back home.

2) Don’t use it at all: in the ‘always online’ world that we live in we know this concept is probably alien to you, but turning off your data roaming or phone completely will stop you from ringing up any unwanted charges while abroad.

3) Call your network: give them a ring before you go, let them know where you’re going and see if there are any bundles or discounts that they could offer you to save money on calls, texts and data while you’re abroad.

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