The new deal prepares the ground to bring roam-like-at-home to Western Balkan countries by 2021.
Background: The European Union has been strengthening its ties with non-EU countries in the Balkans, including in the field of digital policies and connectivity. In June 2018, the European Commission launched the Digital Agenda for the Western Balkans, which sets out initiatives to foster the digital economy in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia, and Serbia; these include broadband investment (€30m in EU grants), increased cybersecurity and digitalisation, strengthening of the digital economy and society, and improvements in research and innovation.
Lower roaming charges are part of the deal: From 1 July 2019, consumers and businesses in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia will pay less for mobile roaming within the region. Calls will become up to eight times cheaper and costs for data will drop, on average, from €3/MB to €0.20/MB.
Roam-Like-At-Home is on the way: The new regional roaming agreement is a first step towards the introduction of ‘roam like at home’ (RLAH) within the region, with further reductions of roaming charges expected as of 1 January 2020 and full RLAH to come into force on 1 July 2021 between the six countries. A new deal allowing lower roaming prices between Western Balkans and the EU is also coming up.