Roaming - Proposed reduction in SMS prices

The European Commission (EC) has presented a proposed revision of the Regulation on international roaming to the European Parliament and the Council. According to this proposal, the Regulation will be extended until 2012 and its scope will be expanded to cover text message services (SMS) and data services (e.g. Internet access, MMS - Multimedia Messaging Service) used in roaming in the intra-community area.

The EC proposes that, in terms of the prices charged to end users, as of 1 July 2009, operators will have to offer their roaming customers an ''SMS Eurotariff'' for intra-community SMS communications in roaming. This tariff places a cap of 0.11 euros (excluding VAT) per message, although it is hoped that competition between operators will bring prices down below this level.

It is also proposed to amend the automated message which, according to current regulations, domestic operators are required to send to users when they begin roaming in another Member State so that it also provides the user with information on the maximum prices of SMSs sent within the community while roaming. Currently, this message informs users of the maximum that can be charged for intra-community voice calls made and/or received in roaming.

It is further proposed that, from 1 July 2009, when users first use data communication services after entering another Member State, they receive an automatic message containing personalised information on the prices charged for data communications in roaming.

Because customers can be faced with unexpectedly high bills, and in order to make it easier for customers to keep costs under control, the Commission has proposed that, from the summer of 2010, operators give their customers the free option of specifying in advance how high their data roaming bill can go before the service is cut off. However, this ''cut off'' must be preceded by a message, sent in advance, warning that the billing limit specified by the customer is about to be reached and giving details on how the customer could prevent the service from being cut off when the limit is exceeded.

The EC has also proposed extending the period that the Eurotariff will apply in terms of intra-community voice calls made or received in roaming for a further three years, so that by 2012, the caps imposed by this tariff will come down from the current 0.46 euros to 0.34 euros per minute for calls made and from the current 0.22 euros to 0.10 euros per minute for calls received.

It is also proposed that limits are set for the average wholesale price (charged between operators) with respect to the intra-community data communications and SMSs in roaming, in addition to new limits applicable, from 2010 to 2012, to the average wholesale price of communications already subject to regulation (intra-community voice communications in roaming).

Meanwhile, the Commission proposes that, as of 1 July 2009, domestic operators begin billing voice calls in roaming by the second with the application of a Eurotariff, while a minimum billing period of more than one second is only allowed when this period does not exceed 30 seconds. At the wholesale level, it is proposed that the tariff caps set in the regulation for voice calls apply to the average prices calculated according to the actual total number of minutes (instead of the number of minutes billed), with this total based on per second billing.

European Union press release: ''Roaming: Commission acts to cut cost of texting and mobile data services abroad''

Interview with European Commissioner Viviane Reding,1518,579781,00.html

EC proposal for amending Regulation (EC) no. 717/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 July 2007 (Roaming Regulation)

Further information:

European Commission (EC) website on roaming

Related information on ANACOM's website:

International Roaming