The European Parliament has proposed a data roaming wholesale cap of €0.50 (46p) per MB. The rate is set to be in effect from July 1 if fully approved.
The move follows the European Commission’s proposal in September that SMS roaming rates should be capped at €0.11 for incoming roaming text messages. SMS roaming charges in the EU currently average €0.28 and can reach more than €0.80. The EC had previously proposed a wholesale data roaming cap of €1 per megabyte before this month’s new proposal of €0.50.
The committee is pushing for greater transparency of roaming charges to eliminate “bill shock”. It also voted that networks should charge calls by the second rather than in 30 second blocks, as consumers are currently paying around 20 per cent too much for roamed calls.
EU telecoms commissioner Viviane Reding, who initiated the new roaming legislation last year, said: “In view of the current economic downturn, the Parliament is right in wanting to strengthen the purchasing power of European consumers as of this summer, which will encourage them to make even more use of their mobile phones. I call on parliamentarians and member states to work together very closely over the coming weeks to ensure that the final deal on SMS and data roaming can be concluded well before the European Parliament elections in June.”
The 785 members of the European Parliament will vote on the roaming proposal from April 21 to April 24. The new roaming rules will come into effect on July 1.
Meanwhile, T-Mobile hit out last week at the EC over pricing transparency and moves to change billing procedures.
A T-Mobile spokesman said: “Transparency of wholesale data roaming charges will reduce innovation and effective practices of traffic steering and discounts. The transparency measures suggested will be costly and will not deliver what customers seek.
“This is a new and growing segment and regulation will reduce innovation in the market and further reduce the revenues of operators in what is a challenging financial time.”
The network stuck to its original claim that regulation is unnecessary because it limits competition and innovation. “Existing regulation is not having its intended effect. T-Mobile’s roaming charges have already declined substantially – this is why we see no need for regulation,” it said.
Orange said tariffs across voice, SMS and data were falling as a result of natural competition, not enforced legislation. “Data is a relatively new service and prices are already falling by around 50 per cent per year,” a spokeswoman said.
3 has been a supporter of price caps and welcomed the proposed data wholesale roaming rate of €0.50. A spokesman said: “This cap could materialise into reasonable data roaming charges for customers.”