EU Parliament approves lower roaming rates

Members of the European Parliament and representatives of the Council and the European Commission have voted in favour of new rules that will lower roaming rates in the EU and see the creation of an EU-wide roaming market.

The new rules will create more competition in the roaming market and in the meantime impose new safeguard limits on consumer prices, including a new price cap for data roaming, which will progressively bring prices down from current high levels until the benefits of competition have fully kicked in.

“Consumers are fed up with being ripped off by high roaming charges,” said Neelie Kroes, European Commission vice president for the Digital Agenda.”The new roaming deal gives us a long-term structural solution, with lower prices, more choice and a new smart approach for data and internet browsing. The benefits will be felt in time for the summer break – and by summer 2014, people can shop around for the best deal.”

Mark Newman, Chief Research Officer at Informa Telecoms and Media said that most smartphone users today turn data roaming off when they travel because of the high costs and unpredictability of roaming charges. But over the next two years, the cost of sending an email while roaming abroad will fall from, on average, €0.07 when the price caps come into effect in July, to €0.02 in 2014.

The cost of five minutes on Facebook will fall from €0.35 to €0.10 per megabyte while a five minute video on Youtube will fall in price from €3.50 to €1 per megabyte.

“In addition to the new price caps for data services, voice and SMS, the European Parliament has approved new rules that will allow new players such as mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) to enter the roaming market,” said Newman. “However, Informa Telecoms & Media is sceptical that this will result in a significant increase in competition. The most likely new entrants, Informa believes, could be Apple and Google.”

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