Poles have been enjoying their first vacation without paying for phone calls, texts or surfing the web within the European Union. Roaming became a dinosaur almost exactly a quarter century after the launch of mobile telephones in our country.
On June 18, 1992, the first mobile network - Centertel - was launched in Poland. On June 15, 2017, roaming has ended…
From a short question to a virtually unrestricted condition
“Good morning, I'm abroad. I will call back as soon as I return.” The three-second formula was kicked off by Poles who were reluctant to take phone calls while being in another country. This was the usual for many years, as calls and text messages while on foreign trips increased telephone bills.
Although devices were becoming more sophisticated, a few months ago, when modern smartphones were in our pockets, we refrained not only from making calls but also before using the internet. Data transfers were costing far more than traditional phone functions. Public Wi-Fi hot-spots were the only way out.
Finally, in February of this year, it became clear that the end of these expensive telephone calls was nearing. The announcements became reality in mid-June this year signaled that roaming was coming to an end. Now, you can talk and send texts from Germany, the Czech Republic, Italy, Spain, and so forth, without cowering from next month’s phone bill. While crossing the Polish borders and staying in the EU, we can chat it up with family and friends over the phone, ask the open question "what's up?" without fear, check the news, weather forecasts and look at social networking sites without a headache about all the overheads.
Since June 15, the basic mobile telephone services have been paid according to rates set by our carrier. The Internet has also become much cheaper.
We are an EU leader
In spring, one of the biggest players among the mobile operators on the Polish market has yet to consider how to keep even just a fraction of the amount from customers who, while travelling the EU, call, send messages and surf the net. It folded when it realised that it was left alone in these thoughts. And just like other competitors have come to terms with the loss of this part of their revenue, it adapted to the recommendations of the European Commission.
However, mobile operators should not complain about the Polish market. “According to GUS data, for each thousand inhabitants in 2015, there were 1464 subscribers (including card phones). The average indicates, therefore, that there are people who use two or three private numbers. Although a higher percentage is characteristic, for example, the residents of Italy - 1513 subscribers per thousand inhabitants (in 2015). Nevertheless, the EU rule is more suitable to data from Germany - 1167 subscribers per 1000 inhabitants, Czech - 1292, Spain - 1079, Portugal - 1104, Slovakia - 1223 or Netherlands - 1235,” explains Bartosz Grejner, analyst at Conotoxia.com. “In total, according to the Polish Central Statistical Office (GUS), in 2015 there were 56.254 million mobile subscribers in Poland, and in 2014 there were 57.595 million,” says the Conotoxia.com analyst.
Another piece of data from Eurostat is a reflection of how the role of mobile phones has been changing over the past six years. - A year ago, 56% of mobile network subscribers across the EU have used Internet services, and in 2011 it was only 19%. The jump, in this respect, was also made by Poles. In 2011, for just 11 percent of phone subscribers, the cell phone was also a source of accessing the Internet. Last year, there were almost three times more - 33 percent- reports the analyst at Conotoxia.com. If the use of the Internet via mobile phones sets the level of a nation's net habits, then the highest would be among Danes - at 78 percent, the second is most likely to be Brits at 77 percent, and third place would take ex aequo Swedes and the Dutch 76 percent. Which country takes place in the tail of the ranking? - According to the European Central Statistical Office (Eurostat) data for the previous year, only 29 percent of the subscribers in Italy surfed the net from their phones - says Conotoxia.com analyst.
The prototype did not fit in any pocket
"The industry has grown tremendously over the past 20 years. GUS states that in 1995 we had only 75 thousand of subscribers in Poland. At that time, the average amount was two subscribers per 1000 Poles! For comparison - at the same time in Sweden, i.e. 22 years ago, there were already 227 subscribers per 1000 inhabitants - reminds the analyst at Conotoxia.com.
It was Sweden, where the first prototype of a cell phone was made. In Wikipedia, it is stated that the model was produced by the Swedish company Ericsson. The ancestor of today's ultra-slim smartphones weighed as much as 40 kilograms, its dimensions and shape resembled a solid suitcase and cost as much as a new car from the car show. And even then, no one could imagine embedding in the device music player, radio, camera, GPS module, not to mention the digital data transmission or video calls.
No roaming, but with restriction
The idea of winding down the roaming is to protect the people from paying enormous amounts due to they leave Poland privately or on business, but they remain permanently connected with our country. Things look different when a Polish citizen, for example, permanently lives and works in Germany. If one wanted to constantly use there the contract and terms of the subscription purchased with a Polish operator, and in addition, counting on the fact that thanks to the abolition of roaming will pay the same as in Poland, he/she would be surprised. The rule is simple: As long as you use the phone more in Poland than abroad, you can fully enjoy low phone bills. What if the roles turn around? "If you are constantly using your mobile phone abroad, your mobile operator may charge you a roaming fee," warns Europa.eu, the official portal of the European Union. What amount are we talking about? "The maximum amount of additional charges (excluding VAT) is as follows: 3.2 eurocent per minute voice call made, 1 cent SMS, 7.70 euros for GB data," Europa.eu reports.
The mobile phone did not take over our holiday
To Poland have already returned people from holiday and they know that they do not have to stop talking on the phone. Did the end of the roaming, however, change the way of spending the leisure time?
- Before June 15, I had a phone with such subscription, that I did not have to worry about dialling, texting or going to websites abroad. Of course, it is still cheaper now, but I have been keeping my rule for a few years, to keep my phone hidden in the drawer for the holidays. In the evenings, I only check who and for what purpose he/she wanted to contact me. But apart from that, I spend my time actively and intensely. I do not need a phone at all, and I do not have the habit of doing selfie and reporting everything that happens to me. I have just returned from a 10 day holiday on two Greek islands. Just after arriving in Greece, I only reported to my parents that I had arrived safely, there was beautiful weather and everything was OK. I have not called anyone else for the next 10 days - says 27-year-old Kacper, who has been working in the design office for two years.
Krzysztof, a 52-year co-owner of an advertising agency, at the turn of June and July, together with his wife completed a trip to the former Yugoslavia. The entrepreneur from Zielona Góra says: - We run a small business and we have not been able to cut it off quite so. Although we had tried to fix all the urgent issues before leaving, it was still necessary to expect some telephone calls. Therefore, when we had travelled in Croatia or Slovenia, I was glad that I did not have to hastily disrupt discussions with my clients or employees. But when we were in Serbia and Montenegro, I generally did not answer the phone, but I sent a message saying that I am abroad and will contact you when I move to the cheaper calling area.