Mobile Data Roaming Charges In Europe To Drop From July

This is great news for people who travel a lot throughout the EU – data roaming, including voice, text and data usage, prices are set to tumble from July 1st 2012 under an agreement with the Council and endorsed by Parliament yesterday. The vote was easily passed by a huge 578 votes to 10 with 10 abstentions.

This is also set to boost competition and lower prices in the market, as new rules will enable clients to buy roaming services from suppliers other than their home service suppliers.

This will take effect from July 1st and replace the existing 2007 regulation which expires on 30th June 2012.

“Using mobile devices abroad remains expensive. During the summer holidays, our citizens will be able to take advantage of more favourable tariffs. Parliament has succeeded in its call for cheaper roaming prices for consumers, and in particular for data roaming. In addition, from July 2014, consumers will be able to choose an operator other than their national operator for roaming services. The new rules will also help to open up the market to new entrants and so increase competition”, said rapporteur Angelika Niebler (EPP, DE), in the debate in plenary on Wednesday.

Amazingly there is little regulation, if any at all, regarding the limits at which operators can charge for mobile data services to retail consumers, but that is all going to change from July 1st as data services will be capped at 70 Euro cents per megabyte, and will then fall further in stages to 45 cents in 2013 and 20 cents on 1 July 2014. Retail caps on voice calls per minute will also fall from the current 35 cents to 29 cents and then down to 19 cents from July 2014.

Text messages will also see a fall, by coming down from the current 11 cents per text to 9 cents per text from July 1st and falling further down to 6 cents on 1 July 2014.

Boosting competition on the roaming market

The new deal also proposes for the first time measures to boost competition.

From 1 July 2014, customers will be able to buy their domestic and roaming services separately, from different operators, if they so wish, whilst keeping the same phone number. They will not be charged for switching providers and their home country provider will be obliged to inform them of this right.

Furthermore, as from 1 July 2012, virtual mobile network operators (MVNOs), i.e. those who do not have their own networks, will have the right to access other operator’s networks at wholesale prices in order to provide roaming services. This will encourage more operators to compete on the roaming market.

Retail ceilings (charged to consumers) excluding VAT

Current 1 July 2012 1 July 2013 1 July 2014
Data (per megabyte) None 70 cents 45 cents 20 cents
Phone calls made (per minute) 35 cents 29 cents 24 cents 19 cents
Phone calls received (per minute) 11 cents 8 cents 7 cents 5 cents
SMS (per SMS) 11 cents 9 cents 8 cents 6 cents

Wholesale ceilings (charged between operators) excluding VAT

Current 1 July 2012 1 July 2013 1 July 2014
Data (per megabyte) 50 cents 25 cents 15 cents 5 cents
Phone calls (per minute) 18 cents 14 cents 10 cents 5 cents
SMS (per SMS) 4 cents 3 cents 2 cents 2 cents

This is a great ruling by The EU and will go a long way to helping people in these days of austerity as well as aid in business innovation.

Source: European Parliament

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