Digital Agenda: Commission proposes more competition, more choice and lower prices for mobile phone users abroad

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A proposal for a long-term solution to the continued high cost of using mobile phones and other mobile devices whilst travelling in the EU (roaming) has been presented by the European Commission. The directly binding Regulation proposed would for the first time introduce structural measures to boost competition by allowing customers from 1 July 2014, if they so wish, to sign up for a cheaper mobile roaming contract, separate from their contract for national mobile services, whilst using the same phone number.

The proposal would also give mobile operators (including so-called virtual mobile operators, who do not have their own network) the right to use other operators’ networks in other Member States at regulated wholesale prices, and so encourage more operators to compete on the roaming market. To cover the period until structural measures become fully effective and competition drives retail prices down, the proposal would progressively lower current retail price caps on voice and texting (SMS) services and introduce a new retail price cap for mobile data services. By 1 July 2014, roaming consumers would pay no more than 24 cents per minute to make a call, a maximum 10 cents per minute to receive a call, maximum 10 cents to send a text message and maximum 50 cents per Megabyte (MB) to download data or browse the Internet whilst travelling abroad (charged per Kilobyte used).

Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice President for the Digital Agenda, said: “This proposal tackles the root cause of the problem – the lack of competition on roaming markets – by giving customers more choice and by giving alternative operators easier access to the roaming market. It would also immediately bring down prices for data roaming, where operators currently enjoy outrageous profit margins“. Here to read more.

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