EU Council approves international roaming Regulation III

On 30 May 2012 the Council of the European Union (EU) approved international roaming Regulation III, which will enter into force on 1 July 2012, when the current Regulation II (Regulation (EC) no. 717/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 June 2007, amended by (Regulation (EC) no. 544/2009 of 18 June 2009) expires.

The new Regulation, which will remain in force for ten years, from 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2022, adopts several measures to reduce roaming tariffs and foster competition, and to ensure tariff transparency, in particular:

  • Extension of the price-cap system to the retail prices of the data transmission roaming services, with the introduction of a “data euro-tariff”, i.e. a tariff applicable to data communications within the European Economic Area (EEA)1, with a value that does not exceed the maximum price set in the new regulation. This limit will be EUR 0.70 per megabyte as of 1 July 2012, changing to EUR 0.45 per megabyte on 1 July 2013, and to EUR 0.20 per megabyte on 1 July 2014;
  • New reductions on the maximum limits that were set for the voice euro-tariff and the SMS euro-tariff (tariffs applicable to voice communications and to SMS, respectively, in roaming within the EEA1). The voice euro-tariff, currently limited to EUR 0.35 per minute, will change to a maximum limit of EUR 0.29 per minute on 1 July 2012, and this limit will fall to EUR 0.24 per minute on 1 July 2013, and to EUR 0.19 on 1 July 2014. Meanwhile, the maximum limit of the SMS euro-tariff will fall from the current EUR 0.11 per SMS to EUR 0.09 per SMS on 1 July 2012, to EUR 0.08 per SMS on 1 July 2013, and to EUR 0.06 on 1 July 2014;
  • After 1 July 2014 mobile service customers will have the possibility to sign up for alternative mobile roaming services within the EEA1, separate from their national mobile operator. After 1 July 2014 roaming customers will also have the right to change their roaming provider at no cost, within 3 working days of concluding a deal with a new roaming provider;
  • After 1 January 2013 mobile network operators will be obliged to satisfy all reasonable requests by other operators to access their networks in roaming, and to publish a reference offer considering the specific guidelines to be published by the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC);
  • The obligation, previously in force, for operators to automatically provide their customers - via a messaging service - with basic personalized information about the roaming tariffs for voice, data or SMS communications when they enter another Member State, now also applies when customers enter countries outside the EEA;
  • The obligation, previously in force, for roaming operators to offer their roaming customers, free of charge, a service providing information on the accumulated consumption of roaming data and which guarantees that the accumulated expenditure on that service does not exceed a specific monetary limit (50 euros, by default) after which the service is no longer provided, now also applies when the customer travels outside the European Union (with some exceptions, established in the Regulation).

1 European Economic Area: European Union Member States, and Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein.

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