Europe votes for roaming data caps
Parliament overwhelmingly approves proposals to limit data charges to 70 eurocents per megabyte from July
Published: 11 May, 2012
Data roaming will become more affordable in Europe, as the European Parliament has voted in favour of proposals to introduce the first caps on data charges for travellers. The new rules will take effect in time for the summer holiday, in July.
"What is significant here is the first ever cap on data roaming, meaning it will now cost a maximum 70 eurocents per megabyte, falling to 20 cents in 2014," said Monique Goyens, director general of the European Consumer Organization, in a statement. However, consumer groups believe further changes must be made. Goyens added: "Given the proliferation of smartphones and more notably the actual cost of data provision for operators, this is still too high."
The new rules have one more hurdle to cross - approval from European leaders at a summit in June - but this is likely to be a formality, which would then allow the regulations to take effect on July 1. The agreement was adopted in the European Parliament by 578 votes to just 10 against, with 10 abstentions.
"By putting price caps on data we have created a roaming market for the smartphone generation," the EU's telecoms commissioner Neelie Kroes said."More than that, we have ended the rip-offs familiar to anyone who has used a mobile phone while traveling abroad."
From July 1, each downloaded megabyte of data will cost a maximum of 70 eurocents and that rate will fall to 45 cents a year later, and to 20 cents on July 1 2014. A one-minute call will cost no more than 29 cents from this year, falling to 29 cents in 2014. The current cap is 35 cents.
The deal also aims to increase competition in mobile roaming services, with users able to change operator whenever they go abroad, from July 1 2014. Customers should be able to choose any service when roaming, separately from their home operator, while keeping the same phone number.
"The new rules will also help to open up the market to new entrants and so increase competition," said Angelika Niebler, the European lawmaker who guided the legislation through parliament."Consumers will be able to choose an operator other than their national operator for roaming services."