Three has stolen a march on its competitors by unveiling an all-you-can-eat roaming data tariff for customers visiting the rest of Europe.
Immediately available from Wednesday to Three's contract smartphone customers, the operator's new Euro Internet Pass costs £5 a day, in exchange for which it offers unlimited browsing. However, tethering is not allowed, and ZDNet UK understand that streaming — already made uncertain by the variable quality of the foreign networks used by Three — is throttled as well.
The move follows the latest round of European roaming regulations, which introduce data-roaming retail caps for the first time. Crucially for Three, which has long campaigned for roaming-rate cuts, the new regulations also further lower the wholesale prices operators have to pay for letting their customers roam abroad.
Three tried to completely drop all roaming charges — including those for data — five years ago, but could only do so when customers were roaming on the few Three-owned networks on mainland Europe. The scheme, named 'Three Like Home', was withdrawn a couple of years later.
Guy Middleton, Three's corporate affairs chief, told ZDNet UK on Wednesday that, while Three Like Home had only been able to gain popularity with "a small number of people", the Commission's new rules meant the concept of cheap roaming could be revived on a broader scale.
"Before, you could get reasonable deals with some operators in some countries, but we hadn't been able to do it across the whole of the EU," Middleton said. "Now, with the roaming regulation, we can do it. The wholesale pricing is going down quite substantially."
"We campaigned for this and the Commission has given us the platform to allow our customers to enjoy their phones abroad as they should be able to do," Middleton added.
Some other operators have started to reveal their revised data-roaming pricing for when the retail caps come into force on 1 July — O2 said in May that it would charge just £1.99 for up to 25MB of usage a day, while claiming that this had nothing to do with the new caps.
However, Three is the only operator to offer an all-you-can-eat tariff, albeit one with a few limitations.