1. From when will the new rules apply?
From 15 June. The European Commission Implementing Regulation on fair use policy and the sustainability of the abolition of retail roaming surcharges entered into force on 6 January, stipulating that retail roaming surcharges shall be abolished as of 15 June.
2. What fundamental changes are to be expected in terms of making or receiving calls when abroad?
As a general rule, for regulated roaming services, operators may not charge prices that are higher than the prices customers would pay if they used such services domestically. With regard to domestic retail prices, however, it must be noted that operators may charge different prices for calls made or text messages sent to a number assigned to the caller’s network (within the network) and calls made or text messages sent to a number assigned to a network other than that of the caller (outside the network), where prices for the latter are usually higher than those for the former.
Roaming charges are calculated on the basis of the prices for domestic calls made to numbers outside the network (on another network). Therefore, if a subscription includes different prices for calls made within the network and outside the network, the operator shall use the charging method that otherwise applies to the roaming subscriber when making calls outside the network in his/her country.
For instance, subscribers whose tariff plans allows them to make calls to all networks for a per-minute charge of HUF 0 within Hungary (there is no separate price for calling outside their network) can make calls for a per-minute charge of HUF 0 when on holiday abroad as well. If the tariff plan of two subscribers of the same operator includes a HUF 0 per-minute charge only for calls made within their network (i.e. they can call each other free of charge), but the per-minute charge for calls made outside the network is HUF 10, the subscriber on holiday abroad will be charged HUF 10 per minute for calls made to the other subscriber. The called party, however, just like at home, will not be charged for answering the call.
3. Will these legislative changes only apply to the Member States of the European Union?
The changes will apply to the EU Member States and EEA countries, that is: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, and Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
With regard to Hungary’s neighbours, it will NOT APPLY to Serbia and Ukraine. Furthermore, with regard to Western European countries, it will not cover Switzerland either.
4. Do changes affect both data traffic and calls/SMS?
Yes. However, for data traffic, you should always check the terms and conditions of your tariff plan, as operators may impose a limit on roaming (e.g. in the case of unlimited domestic data traffic).
5. Will changes be applicable to services used under a fleet contract?
6. If I travel abroad frequently, do I have to notify my operator/do something else?
7. What constitutes a breach of the fair use policy?
8. What costs will the roaming surcharge imply?
Operators may impose a surcharge for a breach of the fair use policy. The tariff applied prior to 15 June will continue to apply for such surcharge, i.e. it will be approx. HUF 20 per minute for calls, HUF 8 per SMS and HUF 18 per MB for data use. The surcharges that may be imposed will be set in EUR.
9. What will happen to service plans that are not in line with the EU Regulation? What do I have to do if I have one?
Operators are required to phase such services out of the market and/or notify subscribers of the relevant changes.
10. Will those living close to country borders still have to pay attention to selecting mobile networks “manually” or can they set their devices to automatic selection?
Those living close to or working across the borders within the European Union, i.e. Hungary’s borders with Austria, Croatia, Romania, Slovakia or Slovenia, will no longer have to pay attention to what network their phones are connected to. Near the Serbian and Ukrainian borders, however, attention must still be paid to the network to which the phones are connected, as these two countries are not members of the European Union.
11. So far, operators have always sent an SMS when entering a roaming area. Will this continue to be the case? Will it still have relevance?
Operators will continue to send SMS about roaming areas; such information still has relevance under the new and more favourable rules, as charges may vary depending on the tariff plan.
12. How will it be checked if operators comply with the requirements on roaming charges?
The National Media and Infocommunications Authority will continue to actively monitor and supervise compliance with the roaming rules.