Ministers from 5 European nations are about to ink an agreement that would lead to a roaming free zone in the region, the Montenegro Ministry of Telecommunications said.
Under the deal, Montenegro, Serbia, Albania, Macedonia and Turkey would remove roaming charges by January 2015. Included in the zone are Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Except for Turkey, all the six zones were once part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic.
The regional regulatory agencies of the five nations will meet in Macedonia to tackle how to create the Balkan cost-free roaming zone.
The zone would be a big help to nationals of the seven areas as well as other visitors since the cost of mobile roaming in the Balkans is up to six times higher than other parts of Europe. The plan would complement the strong pressure from the Europe Union Commission on telcos to normalise their rates.
Ahead of the establishment of the roaming-free zone, Montenegro completed in early September the initial phase of the project that would make available free WiFi in six Macedonian cities.
The initiatives are part of the EU move to implement rules as these Balkan nations prepare for accession to the regional bloc to ensure tourists in the zone won't get phone bill shock due to high roaming rates.
Many tourists are shocked to receive their astronomical phone bills after returning from an overseas trip because of roaming charges. Due to the need to stay connected, travellers often set their smartphones on roaming mode whenever they go abroad, allowing them to access their emails as well as social media sites.
This need for connectivity, in turn, has led telcos to expand their facilities to meet the continuous growth in data demand. But putting up antennaes and other infrastructure requires capital spending, which the telcos recover by charging high roaming fees.