European Commission Proposes Roaming Cost Cuts

The European Commission has presented proposals that would protect consumers form huge charges when they use their mobile phone abroad. 

The proposals aim to increase competition in the roaming market, by allowing customers to sign up for a cheaper roaming contract, separate from their contract for national mobile services, whilst using the same phone number. The proposal would also give mobile operators (including virtual mobile operators) the right to use other operators networks in other Member States at regulated wholesale prices, and so encourage more operators to compete on the roaming market.

To cover the period until structural measures become fully effective and competition drives retail prices down, the proposal would progressively lower current retail price caps on voice and SMS services and introduce a new retail price cap for mobile data services. By 1 July 2014, roaming consumers would pay no more than 24 cents (21p) per minute to make a call, a maximum 10 cents per minute to receive a call, maximum 10 cents to send a text message and maximum 50 cents per MB to download data or browse the internet whilst travelling abroad (charged per KB used).

Neelie Kroes, European Commission vice president for the Digital Agenda, says: “This proposal tackles the root cause of the problem – the lack of competition on roaming markets – by giving customers more choice and by giving alternative operators easier access to the roaming market. It would also immediately bring down prices for data roaming, where operators currently enjoy outrageous profit margins.”

The proposal aims to meet objectives for roaming set in the Digital Agenda for Europe, which state that differences between roaming and national telecoms tariffs should approach zero by 2015. “This objective will be met if competition in mobile markets gives consumers a rapid and easy choice of roaming service at, or close to, domestic prices,” says the European Commission. The proposal will be submitted to the European Parliament and EUs Council of Ministers.