European Commission calls for cuts to data roaming charges
European mobile operators were dealt a blow after the European Commission announced the average cost of using data in the European Union (EU) will be more than halved from current rates.
Ultimately, the decision means mobile operators across the EU will have to implement new pricing caps from next year on data downloads, voice calls and SMS. New regulations could also give consumers the licence to choose a different network while overseas.
Pricing caps for data roaming have been extended to 2016. Receiving an email or using data in the EU will cost up to 90 Euro cents per megabyte by July 2012, and will decrease to 50 cents by 2014. Mobile operators have, until now, lobbied against regulating the roaming market, in which it can presently cost up to €2 for one megabyte of data.
“Price caps are generally an ineffective means to regulate,” said Ovum’s lead analyst Matthew Howett. “Evidence so far suggests that operators have gravitated towards the price caps but not offered prices below these. With this in mind the EC is calling the retail price cap on data ‘a safety net’ and is hopeful that a structural solution will address the issue.”
The change, which is still subject to approval from national governments and European parliament, will come into effect next year, in a move that will promote competition in the roaming market. EU commissioner Neelie Kroes is aiming to eliminate roaming charges by 2015