EU data roaming price caps save business people 1000 EUR per year

Here’s some good news to balance the bad news coming out of Europe. Starting 1 July 2012, the EU’s data roaming price caps enter into effect, saving business people (traveling within the EU) approximately 1000 EUR per year. Families on holiday can expect to save 200 EUR. The EU estimates that the improved EU roaming regulation – taking into account calls, SMS and data – will result in a 75% savings of what people paid in 2007 for roaming fees.

Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes said:

“By putting price caps on data we have created a roaming market for the smart phone generation. More than that, we have ended the rip-offs familiar to anyone who has used a mobile phone while travelling abroad. I am pleased that year after year the European Union is putting money back in the pockets of citizens. From 2014 we are also delivering a permanent solution to the roaming issue, something better than any price cap. We are bringing full competition to this market by making it easy to choose a separate roaming provider. If you can find a better offer compared to your standard contract you’ll be able to do it in a few simple swipes, just like when you choose a Wi-Fi network.”

In recent years residents of EU member states have benefitted from the Commission’s regulations which are designed to fight against “bill shocks”, and create more competition in the market for cellular service.

Data downloads get much cheaper

Since 2007 the EU has imposed price caps on calling and texting. Now the EU is bringing data under the same system. The new prices caps, which will enter into force on 1 July 2012, are:

  • 29 cents per minute to make a call, plus VAT
  • 8 cents per minute to receive a call, plus VAT
  • 9 cents to send a text message, plus VAT
  • 70 cents per Megabyte to download data or browse the Internet whilst travelling abroad (charged per Kilobyte used), plus VAT.

Downloading data previously cost more than € 4 per Megabyte from many operators in July 2009 – now those prices will be cut by around six times. By 2014, as prices are cut further, the maximum cost of downloading data will be just 20 cents per Megabyte, plus VAT, a saving of 90% on many current rates. Operators are free to offer cheaper rates. Price caps are a maximum level, acting as a safeguard, and competition should drive them lower.

Bill shock: better information when travelling outside the EU

To help avoid “bill shock” from 1st July 2012, people travelling outside the EU will get a warning text message, email or pop-up window when they are nearing €50 of data downloads, or their pre-agreed level. They will then have to confirm they are happy to go over this level in order to continue their data roaming. This extends the alert system currently in place within the EU.

From 2014: competition will deliver cheaper roaming

From 1 July 2014, mobile phone users will have the option of shopping around for a separate mobile roaming provider – either through a contract or by choosing a provider at their destination, all with the same number. Mobile network operators in visited countries will have an incentive to offer such services at rates close to national prices, on the basis of their own low national network costs. As people’s mobile data use intensifies and they use their devices anywhere, any time, many travelers are likely to find this option very attractive. Price caps will stay in place until 30 June 2017 as an extra safety net for consumers.