7/3/2009 11:47:00 AM
EU roaming caps put pressure on operators
Competition between operators is expected to increase after new roaming charges took effect on Wednesday (1 July), capping the cost of making calls abroad.
The rules put a price cap of 11 euro cents (9p) on texts sent while roaming - a substantial cut on the European average of 29 euro cents (24p). The legislation also put a cap on data charges of €1 per megabyte (83p) on the price of downloading data - though this applies only to the charges that operators levy on each other.
Outgoing roaming calls must now be charged by the second after the first 30 seconds, while incoming calls must be charged by the second from connection.
European Commissioner Viviane Reding (pictured) said she hopes competition between operators will drive down the cost of pan-European mobile use even further.
Operators are already stepping up to the new rules. As well as abolishing voice roaming charges completely for the summer, Vodafone is now offering bundled data packages for customers while abroad. Customers using Vodafone’s passport can access up to 25MB for £5 per day.
Meanwhile, in June, T-Mobile raised the price for making overseas calls in Europe by 6p, to 44p per minute.
The operator blamed the volatile currency market, particularly the downturn in the value of the pound against the euro over the last year, for increasing prices.
T-Mobile also justified the increase by saying it has had to reduce the price of sending text messages on the Continent, in line with price caps issued by the EU.
The legislation will apply until summer 2012, but the European Commission will report on the effectiveness of the new rules by summer next year. If necessary, it will then make proposals for further rules by summer 2011.