EU imposes limits on roaming charges for mobiles

The European Commission has ordered the capping of mobile phone roaming charges, in a ruling which is set to take effect across Europe this summer. The cap means that smartphone data service costs are set to be limited to 0.70 of a Euro, per megabyte, while there will also be a reduction in the prices of phone calls and texts on mobile phones, set to take effect by 2014. The move to cap roaming charges is seen as being the latest step by the EU in a bid to cut the present disparity between the costs of domestic and foreign calls – with the aim of making the difference negligible by 2015.

The commission first decided to impose a maximum limit on what the providers of mobile phone networks could charge, in response to a situation that the EU described as the “roaming rip-off” as operators charged users over three times the normal rate for calls made on a mobile phone to another country in the EU, and more than five times as much for calls received. Already the moves by the commission have seen the difference between the rates for domestic and foreign calls drop by around 75 percent, compared with the situation in 2007, and the latest ruling should see them move even closer into line with each other.

There has been considerable disagreement over this issue between the EU and some of the mobile phone network carriers, with the latter arguing that they will only be able to make the changes to roaming charges by raising the cost of other services they provide. However a spokesperson for one such company, Three, welcomed the changes:

“This move by EU policymakers is great news for consumers and will help end the gulf that exists between what people pay at home and what they pay when they are abroad in Europe.”

However another network provider, Everything Everywhere, which owns both T-Mobile and Orange, stated that the changes could lead to investment in mobile networks in the UK being reduced.