New roaming charges come into force today

1 Jul 2010

New roaming charges will come into force across the EU today that will lower the cost of mobile phone use for European citizens who use their handset abroad.

From today, the maximum price consumers can be charged for making roaming voice calls will fall from €0.43 to €0.39 per minute (excluding VAT), while receiving a call will cost a maximum of €0.15 cent per minute (ex-VAT), instead of €0.19 cent.

Meanwhile, a data cap of €50 will apply from today when a consumer connects to the internet on their mobile phone while abroad, unless they have agreed to a higher cap before they leave.

Operators are also now required to send a warning to consumers when they have used 80pc of this €50 limit and then cut them off automatically when the limit is reached.

This move has been taken to stop so-called ‘bill shock’, when mobile-phone/laptop users run up massive bills while abroad.

The cost of sending a text message remains at €0.11.

Rule regarding voice mail

Also under the new rules, while abroad consumers can now receive a message telling them they have a new voice mail for free, although they will be charged if they listen to that voice mail.

The European Commission first imposed maximum roaming charges two years ago.

The cost for roaming calls has fallen by more than 70pc since 2005, Brussels said, while sending a text message between EU member states now costs 60pc less.

According to analysis by the commission, more EU consumers are making use of roaming services. Despite an estimated 12pc decline in travel, overall volumes of calls received and SMS sent while abroad in the EU have grown over the past two years. In particular, 20pc more text messages were sent in the summer of 2009 than in the previous summer, following the introduction of the EU-wide 11 cents SMS price roaming cap.

Brussels added that data roaming services also grew by more than 40pc in volume terms in 2009 and said that as smartphones and other hand-held devices become more widespread this trend is expected to continue.

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