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ANCOM: Involuntary use of roaming does not exempt users from paying for the service

On Monday, the National Authority for Management and Regulation in Communications of Romania (ANCOM) warned mobile phone and internet users who have the roaming service activated on their devices that they could end up using it involuntarily when close to the country’s borders, and the involuntary use of roaming does not exempt users from paying for the service.

“Involuntary roaming appears when the phone or tablet automatically connects to a network from a neighbouring country and the user, even though they are on Romanian territory, uses the communication services in roaming,” the communique points out.

ANCOM representatives underscored that they periodically monitor the localities and roads located close to the country’s borders where there is a risk of involuntary roaming, and that they publish the list of localities.

“Our objective is for users who travel in border areas to be aware of this risk and know the way they can avoid connecting to the networks of operators from neighbouring states and implicitly incurring supplementary costs. It has to be pointed out that in case the phone is set to automatically connect to the network, the user who enters involuntary roaming will remain captive in the neighbouring state’s network for as long as the device receives a signal from the operator’s network, even if there is a signal from the national operator the user is subscribed to. In order to avoid such situations, we recommend deactivating the automatic network selection option and activating the manual selection option when in areas close to the borders,” Cristian Popa, head of the Monitoring and Control Executive Directorate, said.

Involuntary roaming can appear in border areas only if users have the roaming service activated and their mobile phones or tablets are set to automatically select the network. In these situations, the mobile device will automatically connect to the network of the operator that has the best signal in that location, according to ANCOM.

“Thus, even though they are on Romanian territory, the user will be billed for communication services used while roaming, as if they were physically on the territory of the neighbouring state. Service providers have the obligation to inform the user about the tariffs of roaming services used in that state, in values that include the VAT, as soon as the user connects to the partner network, without unjustified delays,” the communique reads.

However, ANCOM emphasised that the involuntary use of roaming does not exempt users from paying for the service.

“In case the phone or tablet automatically connects to the network of a neighbouring European Union member state such as Bulgaria or Hungary, incoming or outgoing calls and data usage will be billed in line with the ‘Roam like at home’ mechanism. More precisely, the billing will be made as if the consumption occurs in Romania, outside one’s own network, to the extent that it does not surpass the limits of fair use,” the communique adds.

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