EU roaming charge cap law clears penultimate hurdle


Data, SMS and call caps win approval alongside plans to allow separate contracts for consumers when they travel abroad

MEPs and the Council of Ministers of the European Union have agreed to proposals which will see data, SMS and voice charges abroad capped

If approved by the wider parliament, the legislation will cap data charges at 70 cents (59p) per megabyte from July 1 2012, falling to 45 cents (38p) a year later and 20 cents (17p) by 2014.

Voice calls will be capped at 29 (24p) cents from July 1 2012 and 19 cents (16p) from 2014, down from 35 cents under currently.

An SMS which currently costs 11 (9p) cents will not cost more than 9 (7.5p) cents from July 1 2012 and 6 cents (5p) from 2014.

The proposals would also allow consumers to strike separate roaming deals with alternative providers without having to change SIM cards or their domestic provider.

MVNOs will be encouraged to enter the new market.

European Parliament rapporteur for the draft legislation Angelika Niebler said: “I am satisfied that the Council approved Parliament’s approach to tackle very high prices of phone calls, SMS and in particular of data roaming.

“The proposed price caps ensure a sufficient margin between wholesale and retail prices to assure a level of competition that will enable new players to enter the market.

“This agreement increase transparency and consumer protection to prevent bill shocks, so that EU consumers no longer need to worry about accidentally running up huge bills when using their mobile devices both within and outside the EU.”