ECC Italy

Phone roaming

Telephone services abroad: roaming

The national and international roaming is defined as the ability for a cellular customer to automatically make and receive voice calls or access other services, when travelling outside the geographical coverage area of the home network, by means of using a visited network. This can happen abroad when we cannot use our  home network or even in the home country if our home network does not cover the whole territory.

Roaming is possible because mobile network operators sign agreements with each other to allow consumers to switch from their home network to another one when it is necessary.

Telecommunication markets are regulated by national and European rules, in order to assure consumers not only a good service but also clear and competitive prices.

It is important to stress that even abroad, the contractual relationship is with the home mobile operator, the one we bought the SIM card from. This means that the mobile operator abroad sends the invoice directly to the home operator ( on the basis of negotiated tariffs), which will debit the service cost. This double passage generates extra costs compared to the original cost of the phone call, therefore the sum requested by our home operator can be higher than the one the operator actually paid to the foreign operator.

Anyway, every complaint must be addressed to our home operator, and every phone company operating within the EU must guarantee the access to ADR bodies for the settlement of cross border disputes.

Therefore, before leaving your country it is important to be well informed about the possibility to use the roaming service and also about the related costs, which are different for each operator. Mobile operators are anyway obliged to provide their customers, through SMS and freely, with the specific information on roaming costs of the visited country. Roaming costs abroad are higher compared to national costs, therefore it is advisable to limit mobile phone calls and to use fixed phones or to send only SMS, whose cost abroad is nowadays paradoxically lower than the national one.

Within the European Union the roaming costs are regulated by the Eurotariff, which is valid for all mobile operators within the borders of the EU. The Union guarantees to mobile phone customers  price caps for phone calls, text messages and data transmission when travelling within the EU. The applicable norms are Regulation 717/2007/EC of the European Parliament, as it was modified by Regulation 544/2099/EC. These norms impose price caps that operators can debit for each service. This Eurotariff will be valid until July 2014, when it is decreased again.

Current Eurotariffs: 

Eurotariff maximum roaming charge per minute in Euros (without VAT)

Outgoing calls to any EU and EEA number: 24 cents

Incoming calls from any number: 7 cents

Outgoing SMS to any EU and EEA number: 8 cents

Online (data download, per MB) : 45 cents

At the moment the price caps applicable to customers concern only phone calls and SMS, while data transmission has binding prices only between operators. However, since July 2010 in order to avoid excessive bill shocks, travellers’ data roaming limit  is automatically set at 50 € (VAT excluded), unless they have chosen another limit- higher or lower.

ATTENTION: Eurotariff’s limits are valid only within the 27 Member States of the European Union, for the rest of the world each single operator establishes its tariffs.

Practical tips

· Roaming calls from and to Italy have higher prices, because they include both the phone costs and the local operator surtax for the service provided;

· If you receive a call when abroad the caller will pay only the standard national tariff but you will be charged both the phone costs and the local operator surtax;

. within the EU the Eurotariff applies: it fixes price caps for incoming/outgoing phone calls, SMS and data transmission.

· Before travelling outside one’s home Country, it is better to be well informed about telephone prices abroad;

· In the same manner, before leaving your Country it is preferable to compare the tariffs offered by your phone operator with the other available tariffs, and think about the convenience to change operator;

· Ask your operator  the availability of special offers in the foreign Country of stay; 

· In some cases, it might be advisable to manually select a different local phone operator from the one automatically assigned;

· Usually, the tariffs established in case of prepaid cards are higher than the ones applied in case of contract subscription;

· Before leaving your Country, warn relatives and friends that you are staying temporally abroad and if you receive a call promptly inform the caller about where are you;

· Call preferably during the night or weekends;

· Take into account to buy a local telephone SIM card for local calls.


How should I choose between phone operators?

You should take into account the network coverage offered by each operator within your residence area.

Which is the most convenience contractual profile?

There is not a tariff which in absolute can be considered the most convenient, it depends on one’s needs according to the:

· length of calls;

· numbers of sent short messages;

· number of calls to fixed phones.

It is very important to accurately compare operators tariffs and services!

I was offered a mobile telephone only by stipulating a subscription: what do I have to look for mainly?

You should ask for the length of the contract but also for any potential penalty you might be asked to pay in order to change operator. Moreover, you should verify the phone compatibility with other operator SIM cards.

I live near the frontiers: might it be a problem?

In cross border areas, when the signal of foreign operators is stronger, it is very probable to mistakenly connect to foreign networks, with additional costs.

I am going abroad: what types of precautions should I take?

· Verify if your phone operator is located also in the foreign State or, at least, provides a roaming service;

· Bring with you some top up cards: it is very difficult to find them in other countries;

· Take into account to buy a local telephone cards for local calls;

· Ask your operator about the availability of special offers in the foreign country of stay.

How much does it cost to make or receive a call when abroad?

Regarding calls from and to Italy, the person calling from Italy pays the national tariff until Italian borders, while the other person, benefiting from the Roaming service, pays on the basis of local operators costs, usually higher than the one’s country tariffs. Within the Eu the Eurotariff applies: it impose price caps to phone calls, text messages and data transmission.

Therefore, both the caller and the addressee have to pay, don’t they?

Yes, they do.

What should I do in order to save money using the roaming service?

You should send only short messages with your mobile phone and make your calls only from and to fixed phone.

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