My Norwegian cellular provider has given me a two month deal where I can use 50 GB of cellular data per month. After this 50 GB limit, I have unlimited data, but at very low speeds.

I traveled to Sweden with this plan, and received the following term in an SMS:

I EU/EØS bruker du av min/SMS/MMS som er inkludert i abonnementet ditt, samt inntil 10GB av datamengden.

My translation:

Within the EU/EEC you use the SMS/MMS that is included in your subscription as well as 10 GB of the data.

Customer care have informed me that for EU roaming data usage, the speed will be limited after 10 GB, as opposed to 50 GB for usage in Norway.

The official EU website says:

You pay exactly the same price for using these services when travelling in the EU as you would if you were at home. In practice, your operator simply charges or takes your roaming consumption from the volumes in your domestic mobile tariff plan / bundle.

Is my carrier allowed to give me a separate bundle for EU usage? The EU quote makes it appear that the same bundle should apply to both.

My carrier's customer care department argues that this two month period is a "test period" and that during this "test period" they're allowed to discriminate between domestic usage and EU usage.

Are they correct? Is this allowed?

Edit: It might not matter to the answer, but it turns out that the customer care misinformed me, and that they actually do not limit the speed in the EU, instead they charge (80 NOK per GB) for EU use after the cap.

  • It feels like they are pushing it but you won't find much support in official documents, this is something that would need to be tested in court. Another tricky aspect is that they are not charging you any additional fee or capping your data use so they might be able to get away with it. The regulation does not say anything about quality of service, 4G vs. other standards, etc. it just says you should be able to roam for free, which you are. – Relaxed Dec 1 '17 at 10:19
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    @Neusser they're part of the EEA and it's an EEA-wide regulation – JonathanReez Dec 1 '17 at 10:23
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    @Revetahw My best guess? They've charged you for 10 GB; that's all their obliged to give you when you roam. They're giving you a temporary bonus of 40 GB and it seems likely that it's reasonable that they restrict that to their network. Your permanent plan has full roaming privileges in the EU, and those privileges won't change when your temporary bonus expires. To me, that makes it fair. – Jim MacKenzie Dec 1 '17 at 14:40
  • @Relaxed I've made a relevant edit. – Revetahw Dec 1 '17 at 23:35

Yes, this seems allowed. The frequently asked questions regarding "Roam like at home" listed on the EU site, include the following answer:

If at home you have unlimited mobile data or very cheap mobile data, your operator may apply a safeguard (fair use) limit on data use while roaming. If this is the case, the operator will have to inform you in advance about such a limit and have to alert you in case you reach it. That safeguard limit will be high enough to cover most, if not all, of your roaming needs. Beyond this threshold, you can continue data roaming, subject to a small charge (maximum €7.70/GB + VAT; this will decline gradually to reach €2.50/GB as of 2022).

Formally, if you have a so-called "open data bundle", then the maximum amount of data you can use while abroad is regulated by clause 2 of article 4 of the regulation (EU) 2016/2286:

Without prejudice to any applicable domestic volume limit, in the case of an open data bundle, the roaming customer shall be able to consume when periodically travelling in the Union a volume of data roaming retail services at the domestic retail price equivalent to at least twice the volume obtained by dividing the overall domestic retail price of that open data bundle, excluding VAT, corresponding to the entire billing period by the regulated maximum wholesale roaming charge referred to in Article 12 of Regulation (EU) No 531/2012.

"Open data bundle" refers to a plan in which data is either unlimited or offered at a very low price. This is likely the case for your 50GB plan.

The current maximum wholesale roaming charge is €7,70 per gigabyte. Therefore, if your data plan costs no more than €38,50/month (excluding V.A.T.), a 10GB/month data limit would be allowed. The wholesale roaming charge will be gradually reduced until it reaches €2,50/GB in 2022 (at which point your plan may cost a maximum of €12,50).

  • Basically right, but the wholesale roaming charge or data transfer is currently €7.70/GB and not €0.05/MB. Capping data usage when roaming at 10GB is ok, if the local plan costs less than €38.50 (excl. VAT). According to the question, data usage when roaming is in this case not even capped or charged when reaching 10GB, but the bandwidth is throttled. Bandwidth throttling seem to be allowed (or is at least not explicitely forbidden) by the roaming directive in any case. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Dec 1 '17 at 16:17
  • Thanks for the correction. The €0.05/MB figure is from regulation 531/2012 and was supposed to remain in place until 2022, but this was recently changed – Tom van der Zanden Dec 1 '17 at 16:54
  • @Tor-EinarJarnbjo I made an edit to the question. – Revetahw Dec 1 '17 at 17:21
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    @Revetahw That you are paying does not change the conclusion that the charge is not a violation of the roaming regulation. If your monthly subscription costs less than NOK439.79 (€38.50 + Norw. VAT using the fixed exchange rate for the period July 2017 to June 2018), you are not entitled to more than 10GB data traffic when roaming. If you currently pay NOK99/month, you are only entitled to a free data volume of about 2.25GB and your operator gives you an additional 7.75GB on top of that. Usage beyond that can be charged by your operator up to NOK87.95/GB. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Dec 1 '17 at 19:27
  • @Tor-EinarJarnbjo Thank you for that. Did not mean to imply anything of the sort :) – Revetahw Dec 1 '17 at 20:34

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