A new way of dealing with calls when ‘roaming’ abroad in Europe could be introduced in a couple of years - and new charges could arrive in July 2012. That’s the message from the European Commission, which has just announced a preliminary deal on new EU Roaming rules. The European Parliament is expected to approve this agreement in May 2012, with the Council of the European Union expected to give its approval in June. The new rules could then become law on 1st July 2012.
The maximum cost of calls and text messages would be cut from July, with a price cap for mobile data services also introduced. It means consumers would pay no more than €0.29 per minute (around 29p incl. VAT) to make a call, €0.08 per minute to receive a call, €0.09 to send a text message and €0.70 per Megabyte for mobile data services data when travelling abroad. There’s be a further cut in July 2013 and again in July 2014, at which point data would be just €0.20 per MB.
In addition, consumers will also receive information about roaming charges when they travel to countries outside the EU. From July 2012, people travelling outside the EU will get a warning text message, email or ‘pop-up’ window on their mobile device when they are nearing €50 of data downloads (or any other pre-agreed level). They’ll then be blocked from data use unless they confirm they are happy to go over this level.
From 1st July 2014 - assuming the new laws are passed - customers will be able to agree a separate mobile contract with a different mobile operator for roaming. Alternatively, customers will be able to select a local network ‘on the spot’ and benefit from its roaming prices.
Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice President for the Digital Agenda, said “Consumers are fed up with being ripped off by high roaming charges. The new roaming deal gives us a long-term structural solution, with lower prices, more choice and a new smart approach for data and Internet browsing. The benefits will be felt in time for the summer break - and by summer 2014, people can shop around for the best deal.”
[European Commission roaming website]