End of EU roaming is bad news for us this summer

The EU has abolished roaming mobile phone charges between countries. So you can use your phone in another EU country as if you were at home. Hurrah!

Bad news for us down here in Spain. Why? A worse and more expensive service, basically.

Because with an estimated 23 million EU tourists coming here in July alone, there are very real fears that the infrastructure will collapse. The number of phones connected to the network is likely to go up by 400% in summer, leading an industry body to warn of impending congestion and drop-outs.

In other word: August will see a 185% surge in mobile phone usage over the annual average, and this will be concentrated upon just 2.5% of the national network. Crikey.

In fact, some claim that nine times as many EU phones will be connected to Spanish networks as Spanish phones will be connected to EU networks abroad at any one time. If that makes sense.

Orange has spent €12.5 million in the last couple of months trying to get ready for the surge. Vodafone and Movistar also say they are investing, but have refused to say how much.

Get ready for more masts

This, of course, will have a knock-on effect upon us residents, because prices are likely to go up. Spain already has one of the most expensive average tariffs in Europe – it costs more to run a phone here than in the UK, Germany, France or Italy – and prices are expected to go up to maintain profit margins.

The CNMC, the competition authority, last year warned in a report that heavy investment would have to be made in the network, and added that it would permit costs to be passed onto the consumer.

Consumer association FACUA claims that prices are already going up, and added that the abolition of roaming will not benefit the average consumer one jot – quite the contrary, it will penalise the average user to the benefit of business users who travel a lot.

Communication costs across the EU (via El Mundo)

Mind you – in the winter, when the tourists have gone home, our 4G service should fly. Oh, hang on, they’ve capped data usage on most tariffs, so it’s not as if we’ll see much benefit……

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