Since June 2017 it is much easier to travel around the EU/EEA without needing to pick up a new SIM card in every country to avoid roaming fees. Whatever your view on the EU as an organization, this was definitely welcome news for us frequent travelers and nomads.
However, the end of roaming fees came with some limitations, the biggest of which is the “fair use” or “stable links” policy stating that:
As part of their fair use policy, your operator can monitor and check your roaming use over a 4 month period. If, during this period, you have spent more time abroad than at home and your roaming usage exceeds your domestic usage , your operator may contact you and ask you to clarify your situation. You will have 14 days to do so. If you continue to spend more time abroad than you do at home and your roaming consumption continues to exceed your domestic usage your operator may start applying a surcharge to your roaming consumption.
So it seems that these new roaming rules won’t fully benefit long-term nomads without a stable home country where they spend at least 50% of their time.
But that’s in theory.
In practice, phone operators may not always apply such a policy—even if they have stated one.
For example, I happened to have an Estonian Telia SIM card when the new roaming regulations came into force, and I’ve been using it all over Europe and have barely been in Estonia since then—still, more than two years later they haven’t limited my use abroad or applied any surcharges.
An additional benefit to using a SIM card from another EU country than where you currently are staying, is that you can call and text any numbers in the EU free of charge (as long as it would be free in the home country of the SIM).
So my intention of this thread is to collect information/data points about which carriers around Europe apply these limitations or not in practice.
These carriers don’t have a fair use policy capping your time spent abroad:
- None yet—let me know below!
These carriers have a fair use policy, but don’t apply the 50% time rule in practice:
- Telia (Estonia)—€17/mo for 5GB, unlimited calls/text (post-paid)
- Blau (Germany)—€13.99/mo for 3GB, unlimited calls/text
- Free mobile (France)—€15.99/mo for 25GB, unlimted calls/text
- KPN (Netherlands)—€25/mo for 5GB, unlimited calls/text (post-paid 2 year contract)
These do apply the rule:
- MEO (Portugal)
Do you have any experience with other carriers? Please share them, and I’ll add them to the list!