EU roaming caps agreed

29 March 2012 |


European Union policy makers have agreed on mobile roaming price cuts, which will see prices reduced for customers when travelling in Europe.

Charges for mobile data services are set to be capped at 70 Euro cents per megabyte in July 2012, dropping to 20 cents a megabyte by July 2014. This will mean a dramatic reduction for consumers, with most operators previously charging over €2.

Calls and SMS will also see reductions over the period, falling from 35 cents to 29 cents a minute and to 11 cents a text in July 2012. Further reductions will see calls drop to 19 cents a minute and texts to 6 cents by 2014.

Under the proposed rules customers would also be able to buy roaming services separately from their contracts after July 1 2014, whilst maintaining the same phone number.

“This agreement increases transparency and consumer protection to prevent bill shocks, so that EU consumers no longer need to worry about accidentally running up huge bills when using their mobile devices both within and outside the EU,“ said Angelika Niebler (EPP, DE), Parliament's rapporteur for the draft legislation.

The European Competitive Telecommunications Association (ECTA) welcomed the caps. Chairman Tom Ruhan said: “ECTA’s members recognise that continuing with the wholesale and retail cap system might be the most reasonable solution to achieve the Digital Agenda target of bringing domestic and roaming prices much closer.”

For operators, however, the reception may not be so warm. Vodafone CEO, Vittorio Colao, previously warned that cutting roaming costs would reduce mobile operators’ investments in their networks.

Analysts suggest that the caps will be more to the benefit of customers than operators. But with estimations that roaming could amount to less than 3% of operator revenue it is unlikely to have a significant impact on margins.