Tue, 28 Feb 2012
MEPs today voted to extend EU rules aimed at reducing the cost of using mobiles and smartphones while abroad and approve new structural measures to inject more competition into the roaming market. Since 2007, EU roaming regulations have gradually introduced price caps on cross-border mobile phone calls and text messages and established guarantees against ‘bill shocks’.
The European Parliament’s Industry Committee voted to replace current rules, which expire in June 2012, with even lower price caps to move further towards a levelling of domestic and cross-border mobile phone charges. The new regulation will also for the first time impose caps on data roaming – fees which incur when customers surf the internet while abroad. In addition to the price caps, the new bill introduces a set of structural reforms aimed at attracting new operators to the market and at lowering prices by stimulating competition.
Fiona Hall, the leader of the Liberal Democrat MEPs and industry spokesperson for the delegation, commented after the vote:
“People travelling on leisure or business are rightfully outraged by the rip-off charges for cross-border mobile phone calls and data transmission. Worse, at a time when we are all promoting the single market in Europe with a particular focus on freeing the potential of the digital market, data roaming fees are almost prohibitively expensive.
“The new measures will ensure that more and especially smaller operators will be able to enter the market and stir competition. However, until the measures bear results, we must protect consumers and indeed companies by capping prices at a sensible level that allows us to do business across borders and boost economic growth.”