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End to mobile roaming charges in sight as EU agrees price caps

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End to mobile roaming charges in sight as EU agrees price caps

Photo © Tanusha - Fotolia

(BRUSSELS) - The EU institutions agreed Tuesday evening on price caps for wholesale mobile roaming markets - the prices operators charge each other when customers use other networks when roaming in the EU.

Mobile roaming charges for EU consumers is due to end on June 15 this year, enabling them to call and transfer data across borders from another EU member state for the same cost as at home.

The agreement means that when travelling in the EU, consumers will be able to call, send SMS or surf on their mobile at the same price they pay at home.

The European Commission welcomed the agreement, saying it makes "roam-like-at-home" sustainable for people and businesses, "while ensuring cost recovery and keeping national wholesale roaming markets competitive".

"This was the last piece of the puzzle", said Andrus Ansip, Commissioner for the Digital Single Market: "As of 15 June, Europeans will be able to travel in the EU without roaming charges. We have also made sure that operators can continue competing to provide the most attractive offers to their home markets."

Parliament's rapporteur for the legislation, Miapetra Kumpula-Natri MEP, said this was a victory for European consumers: "The agreed caps ensure cost coverage for efficient operators throughout Europe but are low enough to sustain competition on the European telecom markets."

Parliament and Council agreed the following caps:

  • €0.032 for voice call, instead of the proposed €0.04,
  • a gradually decreasing cap, from €7.7 (15/06/2017) to €6 (01/01/2018), €4.5 (01/01/2019), €3.5 (01/01/2020), €3 (01/01/2021), €2.5 (01/01/2022) per gigabyte instead of €0.0085 per megabyte (or €8.5 per gigabyte), and
  • €0.01 for text messages, as proposed by the Commission.

The deal marks one of the final steps towards the full abolition of retail roaming surcharges, enabling consumers to use their mobile phones in other EU countries just as they do at home without paying extra fees.

Wholesale roaming prices are important, because they indirectly affect consumers' final bills. The new caps should instead enable telecoms operators to offer roaming services to their customers without any extra charges on top of the home market price.

Lower caps for data transfers would also enable EU consumers to access more audio-visual content when travelling from a country to another. This could, says the Commission, open up markets for small and virtual telecoms operators.

The agreement now needs to be formally approved by the European Parliament's Industry Committee, by Parliament as a whole, and by national ministers before it enters into force.

Mobile roaming in the EU

End of roaming charges - how will it work? (EC factsheet)


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