Andean countries eliminate roaming charges among themselves

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Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, the member countries of the Andean Community of Nations (CAN), eliminated as of January 1 the additional charges for the international roaming service to users of those nations.

The measure, announced on January 1 by the CAN Secretary General, Jorge Hernando Pedraza, benefits the 111 million inhabitants of the four countries. Users will be charged under the same conditions or rate plans that they have in their country of origin for voice, SMS and data services when they travel to a CAN country.

“We will pay the equivalent of a local call for all members of the Andean Community (…) Everyone’s pocket, Bolivians, Colombians, Ecuadorians and Peruvians, will benefit,” Pedraza said last Saturday in a statement announcing the measure.

Although free of additional charges, users need to contact their providers to request the international roaming service, as stipulated by the regulations. People have the option of activating the service permanently, so that it comes into effect every time they leave their country for another of the CAN, or for a specific time limit.

The decision that allows the elimination of charges, 854, was taken in February 2020 by an expanded commission with the telecommunications ministers of the region.

A delayed measure

Juan Carlos Solines, a lawyer specialized in telecommunications, told the Voice of america which he considers to be a positive decision, even though he is late.

For Solines, users have been “abused over the years through roaming charges, because, lacking any other option, the operators of each country charged what they were good for from the operators of other countries.” Although beneficial, the move should have been taken “a long time ago,” the expert added.

With him agrees the consultant in digital journalism and teacher Christian Espinosa, who explained that during this time digital communication applications have strengthened their presence in the region.

“If this had happened about 10 years ago, of course it would have been much more relevant, considering that in the last 10 years, five years, we all communicate through social platforms such as WhatsApp,” the professor explained to the VOA.

Espinosa said that the measure, in particular the elimination of roaming for telephone calls, will benefit “specific niches.”

The government of Hugo Chávez decided that Venezuela would leave the Andean Community of Nations in 2006.

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