European mobile roaming regulation to save users €15 billion

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New price caps for mobile data roaming are expected to save families over €200 each year and business travellers over €1000, the European Commission said Thursday. From 1 July 2012, the European Union’s mobile roaming regulation will be extended to include price caps for data downloads which will mean significant savings for those using maps, email and social networks when travelling.

phoneonbeachOverall, the improved EU roaming regulation (taking into account calls, SMS and data) will deliver consumers savings of 75% across a range of mobile roaming services compared to 2007 prices. The European Commission estimates that this year Europeans will spend around €5 billion on roaming services, a saving of around €15 billion compared to what the same services would have cost under 2007 prices.

Commission vice president Neelie Kroes said that by putting price caps on data, the EU has 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 wifi network.”

Since 2007 the EU has placed price caps on calling and texting. Now data is being brought under the same system. 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. From 1 July 2014, customers will have the option to shop around for a separate mobile roaming provider, either through a contract or by choosing a provider at their destination, like they would choose a Wi-Fi network.

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