Cantillon: Not everyone happy about reduced roaming fees
From Monday, tourists can use their mobile phones without fear of an outrageous bill
The new roaming rules will lower the price caps for data downloads by 36 per cent, making it cheaper to use maps, watch videos, check emails and update social networks while travelling. There will also be cuts in the cost of calls and text messages.
From Monday, those travelling within Europe will be able to use their mobile phones safe in the knowledge that the bill waiting at home will be slightly less frightening than it used to be. Changes to the EU roaming regulation mean mobile data roaming within the union will be up to 91 per cent cheaper than it was in 2007.
The new rules will lower the price caps for data downloads by 36 per cent, making it cheaper to use maps, watch videos, check emails and update social networks while travelling. There will also be cuts in the cost of calls and text messages.
European Commission vice-president Neelie Kroes has been a lady on a mission when it comes to roaming charges. Picking up where her predecessor Viviane Reading left off, Kroes has led a sustained attack on the telecom charges.
“Everyone loves the benefits of EU price cuts to roaming. It is the one thing even Eurocritics agree the EU did well,” she has said.
While critics may have agreed on it, the changes to mobile roaming prices won’t be music to the industry’s ears. Its representative group, the GSMA, has been sympathetic towards the notion of a single telecoms market in Europe, but opposes European roaming legislation.
Earlier this month, its chief government and regulatory affairs officer, Tom Phillips, said it was “unfortunate” that Ms Kroes should have used her recent platform with parliament to talk about roaming. He said roaming has already “seen three successive waves of regulation, with Europe’s regulators and mobile companies intensively implementing the latest requirements”.
It seems the individual operators may not be too happy either. While intense regulatory pressure means that European consumers enjoy lower prices than Americans, operators say the squeeze is leaving them short of money to invest in new technology.
Even so, the news is good for consumers and there are indications that the commission is eager to implement further cuts by next summer, coinciding with next year’s European parliamentary elections. A bit of online surfing while lying on the beach may not break the bank in the future.