New political agreement lowers costs of roaming in the European Union

The Danish Presidency of the European Union (EU) has announced a political agreement with the European Parliament (EP) and EU Council of Ministers on a new regulation on international roaming. The new rules, which are due to enter into force on 30 June 2012 following approval by the Parliament and Council, stipulate further reductions at retail level in the price caps established for the Voice Eurotariff and SMS Eurotariff, as well as the introduction of an obligation by which all mobile operators are also required offer to their customers at least one Data Eurotariff (tariff applicable to intra-EU/European Economic Area (EEA) data communications 1 not exceeding the maximum price to be established in the new regulation on international roaming).

The agreement sets out, for example, that, where customers subscribe to a Eurotariff, a voice call made in roaming (currently capped at 0.35 euros per minute) will have a maximum cost of 0.29 euros from 1 July 2012, falling to 0.24 euros on 1 July 2013 and to 0.19 euros on 1 July 2014. The maximum limit on the price of sending an SMS in roaming will fall from 0.11 euros, as it is currently, to 0.09 euros on 1 July 2012, where customers subscribe to the sms Eurotariff, and will fall further to 0.08 euros from 1 July 2013 and 0.06 euros from 1 July 2014. The roaming data service will also be subject to a price limit per MByte for customers subscribing to a data Eurotariff, set at 0.70 euros/Mb as of 1 July 2012, falling to 0.45 euros/Mb from 1 July 2013 and to 0.20 euros/Mb from 1 July 2014.

Provision is also made for two new structural measures: mobile operators will be required to guarantee each other access to their networks and consumers will be able to choose alternative roaming operators without being required to change telephone number.

In 2016, the Commission will review the market situation, with a view to removing retail price caps in June 2017. In the event that prices have not been lowered further, the EC may propose that the roaming price caps be extended.

1 European Union (EU) member countries, as well as Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein (European Economic Area - EEA).

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