EU call and internet roaming costs are to fall

  • Customers protected from exorbitant bills on mobile phones when
    accessing data (internet services) abroad.
  • Particularly good news for families using smart phones abroad

Communications Minister, Pat Rabbitte, welcomed today’s formal decision by the EU Competitiveness Council that internet roaming costs are to fall. According to the Minister, “The reductions in prices announced today are good news for Irish people travelling within the EU and the protection from bill-shock applies globally. I am delighted that our work with colleagues across Europe to limit prices in this sector is bearing fruit. It is a very practical measure of the reality of a single European market.”

The EU Council’s decision extends the EU Mobile Phone Roaming Regulations to protect customers from bill-shock when visiting abroad. The Regulation extends and increases retail price protection for customers of mobile telephone service providers to 2017. The Commission will review the functioning of this regulation and will report to the European Parliament and the Council no later than 30 June 2016.

The elements of the Regulation which are extended or come into effect from 1 July 2012 include:

  • The maximum per minute price for making a phone call falls from €0.35 to €0.29 cent from July 2012, falling to 24 cent in 2013 and 19 cent in 2014 (excl VAT);
  • The maximum price for receiving a phone call reduces from €0.11 a minute (excl VAT) to 8 cent from July 2012, falling to 7 cent in 2013 and 5 cent in 2014;
  • The maximum price for sending a text message goes down from €0.11 (excl VAT) to 9 cent from July 2012, falling to 8 cent in 2013 and 6 cent in 2014;
  • The introduction of maximum retail prices for data usage of €0.70 per megabyte from July 2012 reducing to 45 cent in 2013 and 20 cent in 2014;
  • An obligation on mobile phone companies to suspend data service (internet access) to any customer when the monthly data-roaming cost reaches €50 (excluding VAT), unless the customer explicitly agrees to a higher limit;
  • Operators will also be obliged to issue customers with usage alerts as soon as 80 per cent of the €50 data charge (excluding VAT) or any agreed higher limit is reached.

From 2014 mobile phone companies must also allow customers to change to a cheaper competing roaming services provider while continuing to use the same handset and number.

Commenting on the decision, the Minister said the increasing use of internet-enabled mobile devices means that data roaming charges is where the most extreme cases of bill shock are likely to occur, “This is important for families using smart phones. The introduction of a maximum retail charge for data, which will fall by more than 300% in two years will ensure better value for customers”. The bill-shock provision – which requires service providers to suspend data services when the cost in any month reaches c. €50 (excluding VAT) – will ensure an end to bill–shock when using internet services over mobile phones abroad.

The Minister also reminded those travelling abroad to take care where they roam. “Take care if you roam beyond the EU as we can’t enforce prices in other countries. Roaming costs in other tourism destinations such as Turkey, Morocco and Tunisia, not to mention America and the Far East could be much higher.

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