The end of roaming surcharges is a milestone for the EU

Here is a German version of this text.

On March 26 1995, the Schengen Agreement about open borders within the then “European Economic Community” (predecessor of the European Union) went into effect. From that day on, people crossing borders between initially seven countries didn’t have to undergo the usual border checks. Today, people living in or visiting 26 European countries do not have to show their passport or ID when crossing the border to another participating country (with a few temporary exceptions). The treaty must be considered a milestone for the internal integration of Europe. This week’s finalized decision by the European Parliament to end EU roaming surcharges has a similarly significant dimension.

After many years of tenacious negotiations, various setbacks and fierce resistance by the telecommunications carriers, customers of mobile operators from EU countries who travel to another EU country will, timely for the summer holidays, be able to call, send texts and use the Internet without additional charges. The target date of June 15 2017 will therefore go into the history books of European integration as March 26 1995 did previously. Continue Reading

One year without roaming hassle: This is what real freedom feels like

A year ago my life changed. I had arrived in the San Francisco Bay Area a couple of months earlier and when T-Mobile USA launched its new mobile plans including free data roaming in more than 100 countries, I managed to secure one of these plans through another person (since I do not possess a social security number). I had planned a couple of trips for 2014 already and figured that the convenience of not needing to worry about how to get mobile Internet access during travel would be worth the slightly higher costs of the plans compared to a prepaid plan (the cheapest is $50 a month plus tax, mine costs $70 a month plus tax). And boy how I was right! Continue Reading