Using mobile internet to access maps, videos, photos, social networks and email will be much cheaper while traveling in other EU Member-States from July 1.
A new EU regulation means that, for the first time, there will be a maximum charge for "data roaming" - downloading data from the Internet when using a mobile connection. The data roaming rules will mean savings of over EUR 1,000 per year for a typical businessperson traveling in the EU. A family taking an annual holiday in another EU country can expect to save at least EUR 200. The new rules will also cut the maximum prices for voice calls and texts.
The European Commission said the improved EU roaming regulation was expected deliver consumers savings of 75 percent across a range of mobile roaming services, compared to 2007 prices. It is estimated that this year, Europeans will spend around EUR 5 billion on roaming services, a saving of around EUR 15 billion compared to prices before the first EU roaming regulation became law in 2007.
Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes said: "Price caps on data mean we have roaming for the smart phone generation. This ends the roaming rip-offs once and for all in the EU."
The new maximum prices mobile users will face from next month are 29 cents per minute to make a call, 8 cents per minute to receive a call, 9 cents to send a text message, and 70 cents per Megabyte (MB) to download data or browse the Internet whilst traveling abroad. VAT will be added to these charges.
In July 2009, downloading data cost more than EUR 4 per Megabyte from many operators - now those prices will be cut by around six times. By 2014, as prices are cut further, the maximum cost of downloading data will be just 20 cents per Megabyte, plus VAT, a saving of 90 percent on many current rates.
Operators are free to offer cheaper rates.
Also, from July 1, to help avoid "data bill shocks," people traveling outside the EU will get a warning text message, email or pop-up window when they are nearing EUR 50 of data downloads, or their pre-agreed level. Consumers will then have to confirm they are happy to go over this level in order to continue their data roaming. This extends the alert system currently in place within the EU.
The measures coming into effect on July 1 are the first in a series of progressively reducing price caps, eventually leading to a new system that will introduce choice, competition and new great roaming deals into the market by allowing consumers to choose a separate roaming contract before they travel or a provider at their destination, similar to the way they choose a Wi-Fi network. The Commission said this option would be possible by 2014 July.
by RTT Staff Writer
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