Tuesday, March 27, 2012

European Union Sets Mobile Data Roaming Caps

Tariffs for international mobile data roaming across the European Union will drop significantly in the next few years under a tentative deal reached this week by Members of the European Parliament and the Danish Presidency of the Council of Ministers. Currently, mobile data roaming services charged to consumers do not have a price ceiling, and the existing legislation capping roaming charges for phone calls, SMS messaging expires on 30 June 2012.

The new tariffs seek to bring roaming costs into line with domestic prices by 2015. A downloaded megabyte would cost no more than 70 cents as of 1 July 2012, 45 cents in 2013 and 20 cents as of 1 July 2014 to consumers. The cost of a one-minute call would not exceed 29 cents as of 1 July 2012 and 19 cents as of July 2014, down from 35 cents under the current legislation. An SMS would cost no more than 9 cents as of 1 July 2012 and 6 cents as of 1 July 2014, down from 11 cents under the current legislation.

The agreement also would force operators to enable customers to buy roaming services separately. This would let the consumer chose alternative service suppliers for roaming whilst retaining their national operators for domestic use and keeping their national phone numbers. The consumer would be able to access mobile local data services while abroad without having to unsubscribe from their existing data roaming contract or arrangement, and while keeping their mobile number. The agreement also proposes facilitating access to the wholesale market for new alternative operators (mobile virtual network operators or MVNOs).

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