Data Roaming Caps Come Into Force

European legislation that forces operators to cap roaming data charges at €50 (£45)/month comes into effect today. To comply, operators must first warn users when they reach 80 per cent f the cap and then cut off at 100 per cent of the cap unless the user has agreed different pre-determined limits. The move is designed to protect consumers from bill shock when they surf the Internet with their mobile phones and laptops while travelling in other EU countries. In 2009, a German traveller who downloaded a TV programme while roaming in France faced a bill of €46,000. In another recent example, a UK student was reported as receiving a bill of almost £9,000 for data roaming during a single month while studying abroad.
Under roaming Regulation No. 544/2009, mobile phone operators are obliged to offer their customers the monthly €50 cut-off limit, but they can also offer them any other limit. Until 1 July 2010, customers need to make a deliberate choice in order to benefit from a cut-off limit. Customers who do not make a choice by 1 July 2010 will have the cut-off limit set at €50 by default as from that date.
The price that operators pay each other per megabyte (MB) downloaded has been limited to a safeguard level of €1 per MB, and it will fall over the next two years. The European Commission says that these savings should be passed on to consumers and deliver lower prices for surfing the Internet while abroad.
Member States national telecoms regulators are responsible for ensuring that mobile phone operators comply with the rules on cut-off mechanisms for data roaming in each EU country. Consumers can contact the national regulator in the Member State where they reside if they encounter any problems or have concerns over these cut-off limits.
For its part, the European Commission says it will continue to monitor developments in roaming services and the correct implementation of these provisions, in close cooperation with BEREC, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications, which held its first meeting on 28 January 2010. The Commission will analyse the functioning of the roaming Regulation, including the provisions on data roaming, in an interim report due in June 2010 and in a more extensive review in June 2011.
“Protection against data roaming bill shocks is a useful step towards building customers confidence to use mobile networks to surf the Internet when travelling around Europe, says Digital Agenda Commissioner, Neelie Kroes. Such confidence is essential if people and businesses are to use the Internet to its full potential”.
Theres more information on the European Commissions roaming website.