Hot on the heels of this month’s changes to international ‘roaming’ charges - the cost of using a mobile phone when abroad - comes a new proposal from the European Commission. The new regulations, if voted into law, would allow customers to sign up for a separate roaming contract on their existing mobile phone number from July 2014.
In addition, there’d be a further reduction to maximum call costs and SMS costs in Europe, along with a new cap on the cost of using mobile data when abroad.
In two years time, roaming consumers would have their call costs within the EU capped at a maximum of 24 Euro cents per minute to make a call (26p/min incl. VAT) and 10 cents per minute to receive a call. Text messages would be capped at 10 cents.
Data usage would be capped at a maximum 90 cents per megabyte from 1st July 2012, falling to 50 cents per MB by July 2014. The EC says there’s currently a wide variation in data pricing across Europe, with an average retail price of €1.06/MB but some customers paying as much as €12 per MB.
Mobile operators (including virtual mobile network operators) would also have their wholesale inter-network prices regulated.
Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice President for the Digital Agenda, said “This proposal tackles the root cause of the problem – the lack of competition on roaming markets – by giving customers more choice and by giving alternative operators easier access to the roaming market. It would also immediately bring down prices for data roaming, where operators currently enjoy outrageous profit margins."
The EC’s Digital Agenda for Europe has previously said it wanted to see the difference between roaming and national tariffs approaching zero by 2015.