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UPDATE EU Mobile Broadband Data Roaming Rules Begin 1st July - Stops Bill Shocks

Posted: 29th Jun, 2010 By: MarkJ
EU Mobile Broadband Data Roaming RulesImprovements to the European Union's 2009 Roaming Regulation (544/2009) are about to come into force (1st July) and should prevent UK Mobile Broadband users from being hit by MASSIVE "Bill Shocks" when continuing their internet data activity while roaming around Europe. The move puts a cap on how much consumers can be charged and places more responsibility on mobile operators to keep their customers informed.

Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes, said:

"There will be no more bill shocks for tourists or business travellers surfing the internet with smart phones or laptops while in another EU country. The EU is also cutting the cost of roaming calls for travellers. I am determined to make the EU's telecoms markets more competitive."

Remember Ian Simpson, a 29 year old factory worker from Yorkshire, who ran up a bill of £27,322 for using his Vodafone UK Mobile Broadband connection abroad (here)? How about the pair who were charged £11,000 for doing something similar (here)? Then there was 42-year-old Will Pierce, whom decided to download some TV shows over his Mobile Broadband link while on a break in Meribel and got charged £21,716 (here). News headlines like that should now be a thing of the past.

EU Statement on Data Roaming Rules

From 1st July 2010, if customers have not chosen a different cut-off level, operators will have to impose a monthly default cut-off for data roaming of €50 excluding VAT. For non-eurozone countries, the amount will be calculated based on the exchange rate published in the EU's Official Journal as of 1 June 2010.

Under the Regulation, operators must send their customers a message informing them about the data roaming tariffs every time they enter another EU country. Operators must also send customers a warning alert once they have reached 80% of their specified limit. Messages can be sent by text message, e-mail or with a pop-up window on computer screens, whichever way the operator chooses and according to the device being used.

In addition, the maximum wholesale prices for data roaming allowed under the Roaming Regulation are cut as of 1st July from 1 euro to 80 cents per MegaByte (MB) of information uploaded or downloaded. Next year, the price will fall further to 50 cents per MB.

The new roaming rules will apply until at least the end of June 2012. The European Commission will present an interim report on the impact of the Roaming Regulation by the end of June 2010 and provide a full review of its functioning by 30 June 2011.

UPDATE 1:09pm

The Opera website browser development team has reminded us that roaming users can save even more on their bills by using its free Opera Mini mobile-phone browser (m.opera.com). This uses a cache and compression system to cut down on data usage.

UPDATE 1:57pm

Despite EU mobile operators reducing roaming charges in line with maximum price caps introduced by EU rules, consumers still do not enjoy significantly lower tariffs according to a new European Commission (EC) report published today (Download PDF).

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

"The cost of using mobile phones or devices when abroad in the EU has fallen continuously since the adoption of the first roaming rules. But three years since the rules came in most operators propose retail prices that hover around the maximum legal caps. More competition on the EU roaming market would provide better choice and even better rates to consumers."

The report claims that whilst price transparency has improved, competition on the EU's roaming market is not yet strong enough to provide better choice and even better rates to consumers. However the picture for data roaming specifically is much better.

The report confirms that wholesale prices have fallen to well below the EU maximum (85p per MegaByte uploaded or download). Operators were charging each other an average of 47p per MegaByte at the end of 2009. Average consumer prices have also fallen, from 3.62 euro (3.08 pence) per MegaByte to 2.66 euro (2.26 pence) at the end of 2009.
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