Europe slashes data roaming rates

Several EU flags hoisted outside a building

Data roaming costs within the EU are set to drop dramatically from 1 July as rules governing what operators can charge customers kick in.

The price of using one megabyte of data will decrease from 45 cents to 20 cents, making it cheaper to use maps, watch videos, check mails and update social networks while travelling across the EU, the European Commission said.

Phone calls and text messages will also fall: making a call costing 19 cents per minute from 24 cents per minute, receiving a call down to five cents per minute from seven cents. Sending a text message will now cost six cents (down from eight cents).

European Commission vice president Neelie Kroes said the latest round of cuts were evidence that the commission was making good on promises to make the continent's telecom market more competitive and affordable for customers.

Data roaming charges in Europe were exorbitant and since 2007 there has been a decrease of around 80 to 90 per cent in charges since. Earlier in February, a survey commissioned by the EC found that less than ten per cent of people use their phones abroad in the same way they do at home.

"This huge drop in data roaming prices will make a big difference to all of us this summer," she said. "But it is not enough. Why should we have roaming charges at all in a single market?

"By the end of this year I hope we see the complete end of roaming charges agreed the Parliament has done their part, now it is up to Member States to seal the deal!"

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.