Following the European Commission's proposal of last year (on which we posted earlier), members of the European Parliament and representatives of the Council and the European Commission have now reached a preliminary deal on new EU Roaming rules. The agreement comprises three points of action:
Delivering cheaper roaming through competition
'From 1 July 2014, customers will have the option to shop around for the best deal and sign up for a separate mobile contract for roaming, which may be different from their domestic mobile provider, whilst keeping the same phone number. Each time the customer crosses a border, his or her phone will switch to the network of the roaming provider which they have chosen, without any further action on their part. Customers will also have the option to directly select a local mobile network for data roaming in the country they are visiting (more details below).
As from 1st July 2012, virtual mobile operators and resellers, who do not have their own networks will immediately have the right to access other operators' networks at regulated wholesale prices in order to provide roaming services (together with national services) to their customers. This will already create more competition between operators, and so increase the incentives for them to offer customers more attractive roaming prices and services.'
Facilitating data roaming
'From July 2014, mobile operators in visited countries will have the possibility to directly offer data roaming services on their own networks to travellers, which consumers can select either in advance or on the spot.'
Cheaper roaming through price caps until retail prices will have been driven down by competition (according to the agreement: till 30 June 2017).
The European Parliament is expected to approve the agreement in May and the Council in June. The new rules could then enter into force on 1st July 2012.
See also the Commission's roaming website for more information.