EU to cap roaming costs by July 2012


The EU is gearing up to introduce set price caps that will reduce the roaming rates for mobile users within Europe.

The roaming rules are set to come into force on 1st July 2012 and will see the cost of calls, text messages and mobile data usage capped at the following prices:

29 cents (24p) per minute to make calls

8 cents (7p) per minute to receive calls

9 cents (8p) to send a text message

70 cents (59p) per Megabyte (MB) to download data or browse the internet whilst travelling abroad (charged per Kilobyte used)

The EU also plans to reduce roaming rates even further by increasing competition in the market. Virtual mobile operators and resellers will be given permission to access networks at regulated wholesale prices in order to provide national and roaming services.

It is hoped the entry of new competitors into the market will encourage operators to bring down prices. By July 2014 roaming consumers will be expected to pay a maximum of 19 cents (16p) per minute to make a call, 5 cents (4p) per minute to receive a call, 6 cents (5p) to send a text message and 20 cents (17p) per Megabyte (MB) to download data or browse the internet.

From 2014, mobile users will also have the choice of signing up to a separate roaming contract with any provider they wish to, without having to change their phone number, the EU said.

Whenever a customer crosses a border in Europe, their phone should then switch to the network of the roaming provider they have chosen.

Neelie Kroes, the European Commission's vice president for the Digital Agenda, welcomed the caps.

"Consumers are fed up with being ripped off by high roaming charges," she said. "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."

Khidr Suleman is the Technical Editor at IT Pro, a role he has fulfilled since March 2012. He is responsible for the reviews section on the site  - so get in touch if you have a product you think might be of interest to the business world. He also covers the hardware and operating systems beats. Prior to joining IT Pro, Khidr worked as a reporter at Incisive Media. He studied law at the University of Reading and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism and Online Writing at PMA Training.