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Europe Preliminarily Agrees Cheaper Mobile Broadband Roaming from July 2012

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012 (5:29 pm) - Score 751

The European Commission (EC) has today reached a preliminary deal that should make it significantly cheaper to surf the internet from your Mobile Broadband connection while roaming abroad within the EU. In addition the price of mobile voice calls and text (SMS) messages will also be slashed.

Aside from some huge retail and wholesale price cuts the EU has also put forward a new set of rules to boost competition. The first allows consumers, from 1st July 2014, to choose an alternative provider for roaming services (irrespective of their national provider). Customers will also get to keep their existing phone number and the service should swap automatically when you cross the country’s border.

Secondly all mobile and virtual mobile operators, from 1st July 2012, will gain the right to use networks in other Member States at regulated wholesale prices, and so encourage more operators to compete on the roaming market.

Neelie Kroes, EC Vice President for the Digital Agenda, said:

Consumers are fed up with being ripped off by high roaming charges. The new roaming deal gives us a long-term structural solution, with lower prices, more choice and a new smart approach for data and Internet browsing. The benefits will be felt in time for the summer break – and by summer 2014, people can shop around for the best deal.”

The final plan will still have to go before both the European Parliament in May 2012 and the Council in June 2012, which are apparently “expected to approve this agreement“. That means the new rules should take effect from July 2012 when the old ones were due to expire.

eu 2012 data roaming rates

The new prices aren’t quite as aggressive as some had wanted but they do represent a massive shift. For example, the maximum wholesale price for a single MegaByte (MB) of EU data roaming today, which is allowed under the current Roaming Regulation, is €0.50 (£0.45). Operators are also required to impose a monthly default cut-off for data roaming of €50 (£45) +vat.

Sadly most mobile operators have not passed the full weight of existing savings on to consumers and the new rules have thus been designed to change that.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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