Despite EU mobile operators reducing roaming charges in line with maximum
price caps introduced by EU rules, consumers still do not enjoy significantly
lower tariffs according to a European Commission
report published today. Whilst price transparency has improved, the report
concludes competition on the EU's roaming market is not yet strong enough to
provide better choice and even better rates to consumers.
Commission Vice President for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes said: "The
cost of using mobile phones or devices when abroad in the EU has fallen
continuously since the adoption of the first roaming rules. But three years
since the rules came in most operators propose retail prices that hover around
the maximum legal caps. More competition on the EU roaming market would provide
better choice and even better rates to consumers."
In the Commission's view, EU rules give operators plenty of margin to offer
more attractive roaming tariffs below the regulatory limits. Ultimately the
difference between roaming and national tariffs should approach zero by 2015,
in line with the objectives of the Digital Agenda for Europe (
For data roaming, the report confirms that wholesale prices have fallen to
well below the EU maximum (1 euro - 85 pence - per MegaByte uploaded or
download). Operators were charging each other an average of 55 cents (47 pence)
per MegaByte at the end of 2009. Average consumer prices have also fallen, from
3.62 euro (3.08 pence) per MegaByte to 2.66 euro (2.26 pence) at the end of
The Commission expects operators to pass on savings at wholesale levels to
consumers as lower retail prices, and will continue to monitor the markets.
The Commission's analysis also shows that consumers are making more use of
roaming services. Despite an estimated 12 per cent decline in travel, overall
volumes of calls received and SMS sent while abroad in the EU have grown over
the past two years.
Following the introduction of the EU-wide 11 cents (9 pence) SMS price cap,
20 per cent more text messages were sent in the summer of 2009, than in the
Data roaming services grew by more than 40 per cent in volume terms in
2009. As smart phones and other hand-held devices become more widespread, this
trend is expected to continue.
The Commission will review the 2009 roaming rules in full by the end of June
2011. It will assess whether their objectives have been achieved and whether
the market for roaming services is working as it should – namely as a single
One of the targets in the Digital
Agenda for Europe is that differences between roaming and national tariffs
should approach zero by 2015. In this way, the Commission will achieve a true
Single Market for telecoms services.