For a long time, there has been a long discussion about roaming prices in Europe. In fact, according to many sources, Europeans still tend not to use their mobile phones when they cross borders in the EU because of the prices. The Commission has proposed several “structural” solutions to promote competition on the roaming market. According to Neelie Kroes, Digital Agenda Commissioner, Europeans will be able to choose their operator when using their mobile phone in another EU member state from 1 July 2014 on. Prices for mobile data transfer will be regulated from 1 July 2012, as voice calls and text messages are today.

“There will be practically no difference between national and roaming prices from 2015 on”, said the Commissioner. On July 2014, consumers will have the chance to choose a specific roaming contract, with a different operator, without changing their phone number, without affecting their national services and keeping the same SIM card for national services and roaming.

Commission’s proposal:

  • The current ceiling for a phone call made from a mobile phone in another EU state (€ 0.35 + VAT per minute) will drop to € 0.32 on 1 July 2012, to € 0.28 on 1 July 2012 and € 0.24 on 1 July 2014.
  • For calls received elsewhere in the EU, price caps will be kept at € 0.11 on 1 July 2012, but will drop to € 0.10 on 1 July 2013.
  • The cap for text messages would drop from today’s € 0.11 per message to € 0.10 per message on 1 July 2012.

Another question is roaming data market, which is now considered ready for intervention. Users are still paying too much for roaming mobile data than for the same service at home. The Commission proposes maximum roaming prices per megabyte of € 0.90 + VAT on 1 July 2012, then € 0.70 in 2013 and € 0.50 in 2014. One megabyte is equivalent to around 100 e-mails without attachment, less than one hour of internet use or a minute music downloaded on a MP3 player, and a few seconds of video.

The new rates would apply until 30 June 2016. They could be even eliminated if competition becomes sufficiently developed and prices drop below European ceilings. After a review in 2015, the Commission could extend the duration of these caps. Wholesale prices for calls, text messages and data will continue to be regulated until 2022, when the draft regulation submitted to the Council and the Parliament would expire.

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