EU acts on data roaming charges

Posted on by Mike Evans


AS PREDICTED by MacOldie yesterday, data roaming charges within the EU are to be capped from July 1. From that date the "wholesale" charge (that charged by the remote network to the home network) must be no more than one euro per megabyte of data. However, I see that the cap is €1.68 even at the moment when some operators charge up to €10 a megabyte (€10,000 a gigabyte). So we cannot expect roaming charges to drop to anywhere near the wholesale price unless there is sustained pressure on operators and on EU Telecoms Commissioner, Viviane Reding.

There is some actual good news: the roaming charge for text messages must be no more than 11 euro cents (14 US cents) from July 1. This is the consumer price, rather than the wholesale price, so that is the maximum European subscribers will pay. 

Commenting on the new measures, Reding said: "Using your mobile phone abroad in the EU should not cost unjustifiably more than at home, whether for making calls, sending texts or surfing the Web." She went on, "Europe's 37 millions tourists and 110 million business travellers are waiting for the promise of the borderless single market to finally have a positive impact on their phone bills.

The GSM Association, which represents major mobile operators, has said the latest measures were unnecessary and that data prices were already falling. Well, they would, wouldn't they and they aren't, aren't they?  With current charges of up to €10,000 euros per gigabyte they are proving that this assertion is nonsense; they are doing very nicely, thank you, on the backs of the poor European consumer.  

Every reduction in data roaming charges had been forced through, cent by bloody cent, against the active opposition of the telecoms operators. Charges are still far too high and will remain too high. Even at the consumer price of €1 per megabyte they would still be too high as far as MacOldie is concerned. 

Download volumes are rising all the time as applications and data use up more space. Even €1,000 per gigabyte (at the proposed "wholesale" price) is usurious and it wholly unacceptable by the consumer. Anyone who downloads a movie or television drama episode while sunning on the beach still faces a bill of over €10,000 for the privilege. Mme Reding please note: MacOldie is watching you.

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