From 1 July 2010 consumers no longer need to worry about accidentally
running up huge bills when they connect to the internet using mobile networks
via a phone or computer when abroad in the EU.
Thanks to the EU's roaming rules, from Thursday, 1 July the data-roaming
limit for travellers will be automatically set at 50 euro (41 GBP) excluding
VAT (unless they have chosen another limit - higher or lower).
Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes said:
"There will be no more bill shocks for tourists or business travellers
surfing the internet with smart phones or laptops while in another EU country.
The EU is also cutting the cost of roaming calls for travellers. I am
determined to make the EU's telecoms markets more competitive."
Operators will have to send users a warning when they reach 80% of their
data-roaming bill limit. The operator will have to cut off the mobile internet
connection once the limit has been reached, unless the customer has indicated
they want to continue data roaming that particular month.
In addition, maximum wholesale prices for data roaming will fall from 1 euro
(85 pence) to 80 cents (68 pence) per MegaByte.
The maximum price for making a roaming call will be cut to 39 cents (33
pence) per minute (excluding VAT), instead of the current 43 cents (36
Receiving a call will cost a maximum of 15 cents (13 pence) per minute
(excluding VAT), instead of 19 cents (16 pence).
The cost of making and receiving calls when abroad in the EU will now be 73%
cheaper than in 2005, when the EU first started to tackle excessive roaming
The EU's 2009
Roaming Regulation (N° 544/2009) required mobile operators to offer their
customers, as of March 2010 (
IP/10/215), the possibility to set their own monthly cut-off price limit
for data roaming via mobile phone or a computer.
From 1 July 2010, if customers have not chosen a different cut-off level,
operators will have to impose a monthly default cut-off for data roaming of €50
For non-eurozone countries, the amount will be calculated based on the
exchange rate published in the EU's Official Journal as of 1 June 2010.
These measures mean that users will no longer receive massive bills
(potentially thousands of euros) because they downloaded music or watched
videos on their phones or computers while in another member state without being
aware of the cost.
As an example of the problem, in 2009, a German traveller downloading a TV
programme while roaming in France faced a bill of no less than €46,000 (more
than 38,000 GBP). In another recent example, a UK student was reported as
receiving a bill of almost €9,000 (7,610 GBP) for data roaming during a single
month while studying abroad.
Under the Regulation, operators must send their customers a message
informing them about the data roaming tariffs every time they enter another EU
country. Operators must also send customers a warning alert once they have
reached 80% of their specified limit. Messages can be sent by text message,
e-mail or with a pop-up window on computer screens, whichever way the operator
chooses and according to the device being used.
In addition, the maximum wholesale prices for data roaming allowed under the
Roaming Regulation are cut as of 1 July from 1 euro (85 pence) to 80 cents (68
pence) per MegaByte (MB) of information uploaded or downloaded. Next year the
price will fall further to 50 cents (42 pence) per MB.
Roamed voice calls
The maximum retail prices (excluding VAT) for roaming calls will also be
reduced. They will fall by nearly 10%, from 43 cents to 39 cents per minute for
calls made and by more than 20% from 19 cents to 15 cents per minute for calls
Finally, receiving a voice mail message while roaming will become free of
charge, but consumers will continue to be charged for listening to their voice
mail messages. Prices for sending short text messages will remain at 11 cents
Member states' national telecoms regulators must ensure that mobile phone
operators comply with the new rules on data roaming and the lower prices of
voice calls. Consumers can contact the national regulator in the
member state where their mobile operator is based if they have any problems or
questions about the new limits.