Hall: MEPs resume fight to end roaming rip off

Fiona Hall MEPMEPs today voted to extend EU rules aimed at reducing the cost of using mobiles and smartphones while abroad and approve new structural measures to inject more competition into the roaming market. Since 2007, EU roaming regulations have gradually introduced price caps on cross-border mobile phone calls and text messages and established guarantees against ‘bill shocks’.

The European Parliament’s Industry Committee voted to replace current rules, which expire in June 2012, with even lower price caps to move further towards a levelling of domestic and cross-border mobile phone charges. The new regulation will also for the first time impose caps on data roaming – fees which incur when customers surf the internet while abroad.  In addition to the price caps, the new bill introduces a set of structural reforms aimed at attracting new operators to the market and at lowering prices by stimulating competition.  

Fiona Hall, the leader of the Liberal Democrat MEPs and industry spokesperson for the delegation, commented after the vote:

“People travelling on leisure or business are rightfully outraged by the rip-off charges for cross-border mobile phone calls and data transmission. Worse, at a time when we are all promoting the single market in Europe with a particular focus on freeing the potential of the digital market, data roaming fees are almost prohibitively expensive.   

“The new measures will ensure that more and especially smaller operators will be able to enter the market and stir competition. However, until the measures bear results, we must protect consumers and indeed companies by capping prices at a sensible level that allows us to do business across borders and boost economic growth.”  

Negotiations between the European Parliament and national governments in the Council on a final agreement on the new roaming regulation will start in the next week.

Note to editors:

Under the current rules in force until June 2012, the maximum roaming charge for making a call is 35 cents (29 pence) and for receiving a call is 11 cents (9 pence) per minute. Sending a text message cross-border is capped at 11 cents (9 pence) while receiving a text is free.

Business and consumer groups in theUKhave lobbied the Coalition Government to convince other EU Members States to push for an even greater reduction in data prices for people and businesses travelling aboard. In an open letter to communications minister Ed Vaizey, they pointed out “using the internet on your mobile phone inEuropecould end up costing more than the trip itself.”

Open letter to Ed Vaizey: http://www.three.co.uk/_standalone/Link_Document?content_aid=1220472213915

The ITRE Committee voted in favour of the following price caps which will still have to be negotiated with national ministers in the Council:

The retail charge (excluding VAT) of a Eurotariff which a home provider may levy from its roaming customer for the provision of a regulated roaming call may vary for any roaming call but shall not exceed EUR 0,25 per minute for any call made or EUR 0,08 per minute for any call received as of 1 July 2012. The price ceiling for calls made shall decrease to EUR 0,20 and EUR 0,15 on 1 July 2013 and on 1 July 2014 respectively, and for calls received to EUR 0,07 on 1 July 2013, and 0,05 on 1 July 2014. Without prejudice to Article 19 these regulated maximum retail charges for the Eurotariff shall remain valid until 30 June 2017. 

With effect from 1 July 2012, the retail charge (excluding VAT) of a Euro-SMS tariff which a home provider may levy from its roaming customer for a regulated roaming SMS message sent by that roaming customer shall reduce to EUR 0,08 from 1 July 2012, to EUR 0,07 from  1 July 2013 and EUR 0,05 from  1 July 2014. Without prejudice to Article 19, the regulated maximum retail charge for the Euro-SMS tariff shall remain at EUR 0,05 until 30 June 2017.



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