Sunday, 13 May 2012

Hello? Hello? - on affordable use of mobile phones abroad

We have posted before about the planned changes in the roaming costs for people travelling across the EU. (Towards no stress roaming) Last week the European Parliament and the European Council reached an agreement about a new regulation on roaming charges, that is supposed to be adopted by the council in June this year and start binding Member States as of 1 July 2012 (repealing regulation no 717/2007).

As of 1 July 2012 the cost for consumers of using data services on their mobile phones while being abroad will be lowered to 0,70 Euro per 1 MB, then to 0,45 Euro in 2013, and 0,20 Euro on 1 July 2014. At this moment, there is no cap for such charges set for the operators. Additionally, the cost of a 1 minute call should not exceed 0,29 Euro from 1 July 2012 and 0,19 Euro from July 2014 (current maximum is 0,35 Euro). Texting will also be cheaper for consumers from current 0,11 Euro to 0,09 Euro on 1 July 2012 and 0,06 Euro on 1 July 2014. These new price caps are expected to save families over 200 Euro each year, and over 1000 Euro to business travellers (see here).

Moreover, the currently binding regulation obliging operators to send alert messages to consumers who are approaching 50 Euro of charges in a month, is supposed to have its scope widened to cover consumers travelling outside the EU as well. This initiative is supposed to prevent consumers receiving shockingly high bills after their holidays abroad. Of course, the network in a country outside the EU would have to be compatible with the operator's settings in order for such an alert to be received.

The most important change is the introduction of a separation between domestic and roaming services that are being offered to consumers. This means that consumers will be able to choose (as of 1 July 2014) separate operators for their domestic and their roaming services, taking into account which operator has the best deal in either of these sectors for them. Consumers will be able to keep the same phone number while using two different operators. Increasing competition on the mobile phone market is bound to lead to further lowering of prices and making telecommunication sector more consumer-friendly. (New deal to cut mobile roaming prices, including data services)

For more information see the website on roaming or FAQ.

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