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Friday, July 01, 2011
EU Reveals Plan For Lower Mobile Roaming Prices

The European Commission plans to present next week its plan to eliminate differences between domestic rates and mobile calls abroad, making post-travel bill shock a thing of the past.

With effect from 1st July 2011 to 30 June 2012 EU mobile operators will again be obliged to lower retail prices for roaming calls in line with EU rules first introduced in 2007 and amended in 2009.

Consumers opting for the EU-regulated "Eurotariff" will pay no more than 35 cents per minute for calls made and 11 cents per minute for calls received while abroad in the EU, the European Commission (EC) announced today. This is the last in the series of regulated price cuts under the current EU Roaming Regulation, which expires end June 2012.

On 30 June 2010 the Commission published a report indicating that, while such price cuts have temporarily reduced roaming prices during the regulated period, the current rules did not solve the underlying problem of lack of competition in roaming services and prices remained stubbornly close to the retail caps.

This creates the need for a new regulatory intervention with a view to meeting, the target set in the Digital Agenda for Europe that the difference between roaming and national telecoms tariffs should approach zero by 2015.

"Such a target will be met if competition in mobile markets gives consumers a rapid and easy choice of roaming service at, or close to, a relevant competitive domestic price level. For this purpose, the Commission will be presenting very shortly a proposal for a long-term solution to the structural problems in the markets for voice, text and data roaming," the EC added.

Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice President for the Digital Agenda said: "These new price caps will temporarily reduce retail prices for making and receiving voice calls when in another EU country during the coming year. But we have to tackle roaming problems at the root with a long lasting structural approach. The Commission will therefore be coming forward very shortly with comprehensive new proposals for long-term solutions to address the underlying problem of lack of competition in roaming markets."

The maximum retail prices (excl. VAT) for roaming calls will be reduced during the period 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012. They will fall from the current 39 cents to 35 cents per minute for calls made and from 15 cents to 11 cents per minute for calls received. For non-eurozone countries, the amount will be calculated based on the exchange rate published in the EU's Official Journal as of 1 June 2011.

Member States' national telecoms regulators must ensure that mobile phone operators comply with the new rules on data roaming and the lower prices of voice calls.

From 1st July 2011 the cap for data roaming wholesale prices (the price which operators charge each other) will fall to 50 cents per MegaByte (down from 80 cents per MB). The current Regulation does not establish a retail price cap for data services.

Consumers and business travellers will continue to be protected from unexpected "bill shocks" for downloading data over mobile networks as monthly bills for data downloading are limited to €50 unless the customer explicitly agrees otherwise.

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