EU mobile data roaming charges to be capped as of 1 July

10 May 2012

The European Parliament has today passed new roaming regulation, which will come into force as of 1 July. The new mobile roaming regulation will be extended to include price caps for data downloads. But what type of savings can holidaymakers and business travellers expect?

The European Parliament said that the EU’s new mobile roaming regulation would spell significant savings for those using maps, email and social networks when travelling.

In March we had reported on the deal to allow mobile phone, smartphone and tablet users avail of much lower costs when using their devices abroad in EU member states.

According to the Digital Agenda for Europe, a typical businessperson travelling in the EU this will now incur savings of over €1,000 per year, while a family taking an annual holiday in another EU country can expect to save at least €200.

It said that the EU roaming regulation, which will now take calls, SMS and data into account, will deliver consumers savings of 75pc across a range of mobile roaming services, compared to 2007 prices.

Here’s a full breakdown of the new charges that will include caps on data downloads.

As of July, people who are roaming can expect to pay 29 cent per minute to make a call, down from 35 cent. This will fall to 19 cent in 2014.

They will pay 8 cent per minute to receive a call. And it will cost 9 cent to send a text message, down from 11 cent.

And as for data downloads, it will cost people 70 cents per megabyte to download data or browse the internet whilst travelling abroad (charged per kilobyte used).

While downloading data previously cost more than €4 per megabyte from many operators in July 2009, the European Parliament said now those prices will be cut by around six times.

It said that, by 2014, as prices are cut further and that the maximum cost of downloading data will be 20 cent per megabyte, plus VAT. It said this would be a saving of 90pc on many current rates.

The Digital Agenda is predicting that Europeans will spend around €5bn on roaming services this year. It said this would be a saving of around €15bn compared to what the same services would have cost under 2007 prices.

“By putting price caps on data we have created a roaming market for the smart phone generation. More than that, we have ended the rip-offs familiar to anyone who has used a mobile phone while travelling abroad. I am pleased that year after year the European Union is putting money back in the pockets of citizens,” said Commission vice-president Neelie Kroes today.

She went on to say that, from 2014, the European Parliament would be delivering a “permanent solution” to the roaming issue.

“We are bringing full competition to this market by making it easy to choose a separate roaming provider. If you can find a better offer compared to your standard contract you’ll be able to do it in a few simple swipes, just like when you choose a Wi-Fi network,” said Kroes.

Also, for those travelling outside of the EU, from 1 July, will get a warning text message, email or pop-up window when they are nearing €50 of data downloads, or their pre-agreed level.

Consumers will then have to confirm they are happy to go over this level in order to continue their data roaming.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic