Fabian Demicoli

New EU rules signal curbing of ‘unfair’ roaming costs


Charges for using a mobile phone
abroad will be significantly reduced thanks to new EU rules negotiated earlier
this year. Checking e-mails, surfing
the web and making calls while on holiday became cheaper from the weekend.

From 1 July, the newest
EU rules against high roaming charges came into force, with cap prices for
calls, SMS and internet use on the mobile.

According to the new EU
law, prices for using mobiles phones abroad will be lowered to 29 cents per
minute for calls and 70 cents per megabyte for internet access in July 2012.

They will be further
reduced to 19 cents per minute for calls and 20 cents per megabyte for internet
access by 2014.

In addition, users will
be allowed to choose a different operator for roaming which is expected to
bring about more competition.

Most operators are
already starting to offer roaming packages for travellers in response to the
new law.

The new charges were
welcomed by the "Europeans for fair roaming" group which has lobbied
for further lowering of roaming charges with the support of 20 associations, 14
MEPs and 150,000 people.

The commission originally
proposed prices of 50 cents per megabyte in 2014. Effort from the European
Parliament and different stakeholders however managed to get them down to 20
cents per megabyte. This shows that determined citizens can have a real
influence on European politics.

In the meantime, MEPs and
EU member states rightly stepped in to ensure that customers get a fair deal
instead of a nasty bill shock at the end of a trip abroad.

Holidaymakers will also
be able to benefit from cheaper prices for mobile internet services while
staying in touch with family and friends back home over email and social
network sites.

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