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Major new rules for roaming in the EU

06 July 2011
by BEUC -- last modified 06 July 2011

Today sees new European Commission rules proposing to change the face of Europe’s telecommunications market and further reduce the roaming cost of calls, texts and, for the first time, data usage. These rules would be applicable as of 1st July 2012.


The two major features are:

·      Further caps on the retail price when roaming of voice call making and receiving; SMS; and a new cap for data roaming.

·         An ambitious attempt to prompt market competition by "structural remedies". These envisage a new system where roaming services could be offered by companies other than the consumer's mobile phone provider. In practice, this is good news for consumers who could choose between separate roaming packages. More generally, this could lead to a decrease in prices for all consumers, as stronger pressure from competitors could encourage incumbents to lower their prices.

Monique Goyens, Director General of the European Consumers' Organisation BEUC commented:

"Roaming should not be a trap of travel in Europe. But too often it is, due to the potentially sky high costs and the dire lack of market choice. 72% of travellers still limit their roaming calls because of high charges which are still three times higher than domestically. It's unjustifiable that data roaming can be 50 times more expensive than when at home.

"All evidence shows the European telecommunications market urgently needs more competition, to revise the way it operates and to be more open for new entrants. Currently, it's a closed shop.

"It's blindingly obvious that fair pricing is only possible when the lack of competition is solved. It's reassuring that the Commission is tackling the market's structural problems by introducing decoupling of roaming from domestic telecom subscriptions, and at last acting on the increasingly important issue of data roaming. The current cap of 90 cents per MB is a slow start. Consumers should not be ripped off for surfing the net abroad."

BEUC, the European Consumers' Organisation has a membership of 42 well respected, independent national consumer organisations from 31 European countries (EU, EEA and applicant countries). BEUC acts as the umbrella group in Brussels for these organisations and our main task is to represent our members and defend the interests of all Europe's consumers.

European Consumers’ Organisation (BEUC)