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EU slashes data roaming price caps - 05/08/2014

A woman uses her mobile phone while relaxing in a deckchair at the beach © Shutterstock

The EU has more than halved mobile data roaming charges for people travelling within Europe this summer and aims to eliminate roaming charges entirely by 2016.

At the beginning of summer, the cap on the price of downloading data abroad fell from 45 cents per megabyte to 20 cents - a cut of 55.5% - making it cheaper to search maps, watch videos and check e-mails while travelling across the EU.

The cost of texts and calls has also come down. Texts are now capped at 6 cents each, making calls at 19 cents a minute, and receiving them at 5 cents - cuts of at least 20 each.

In addition, new rules enable tourists to compare roaming offers before they travel and benefit from the best prices. In some cases they can choose a local mobile provider for data services while abroad.

Reducing costs

When you use your phone in a foreign country, your service provider at home works with one in the country you're visiting to keep you connected. However, weak competition for roaming customers has at times led to excessive prices.

The EU started to take action against this in 2007, since when prices have fallen by 80-90%.

And it plans to go further, preparing new rules - the "Connected Continent" - that would eliminate roaming charges within the EU altogether.

The aim is to protect European citizens from unreasonable premiums and confusing contracts that make no sense within Europe's single market.

High premiums are also a barrier to business across EU borders. It is estimated that eliminating roaming charges would permanently boost GDP by 1% a year.

Connected Continent

The Connected Continent regulation aims to boost Europe's digital and communications industries by breaking down national barriers between them. This could result in

  • more wireless broadband
  • more 4G
  • the emergence of Europe-wide mobile companies.

Customers would benefit from more competition between more companies and a guarantee of clear and simple contracts.

It would also help the digital sector to flourish, aiding job creation in this high-growth area.

Press release - Huge cuts in roaming price caps

Roaming

Connected Continent

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