Data roaming charges could be capped for the first time and the price of calls and texts abroad reduced after wide ranging changes to using mobiles abroad were backed by the MEPs.
The European Parliament's industry committee backed the proposals, which included allowing customers to buy roaming services from other operators while abroad, in a vote that took place this morning (28 February). The proposals could be put to a vote by the European Parliament in April.
Three's parent company Hutchison Whampoa welcomed today's vote and said consumers would benefit. Christian Salbaing, deputy chairman for Hutchison Whampoa Europe said: 'We support the Commission’s efforts to reduce roaming prices. The committee’s proposed data caps will pave the way for greater competition and lower consumer prices. This proposal is a great result for smartphone and mobile data users across Europe. We urge the Parliament to make these proposals a reality.'
Today's vote was the latest step in attempts to bring cross-border roaming charges in line with domestic prices by 2015. Current legislation capping charges for calls and texts expires in June 2012. The committee said operators should offer retail roaming services from 1 March 2014, in order to stimulate competition. Operators should allow a customer to switch free of charge and inform them of this right, the report said. The committee also proposed allowing MVNOs to act as an alternative to operators when consumers are abroad.
For calls, the committee proposed a cap of €0.25 per minute for outgoing calls and €0.08 per minute for incoming calls from July 2012 for consumers. This would decrease to €0.15 for outgoing and €0.05 for incoming from July 2014. Wholesale prices would decrease from €0.11 per minute to €0.05 per minute between 2012 and 2014. Texts would fall from €0.08 to €0.05 between 2012 and 2014 and the wholesale charge for SMS would drop from €0.03 to €0.01. Data roaming would fall sharply from €0.50 per MB from July 2012 to €0.20 from July 2014. Wholesale charges would drop from €0.25 per MB to €0.05 per MB during the same period.
Angelika Niebler, who wrote the committee's report, said: 'We need to stimulate real competition among mobile operators and guarantee fair roaming prices for EU consumers who are on holiday or travelling for work.'
Editor: Graeme Neill