Brussels, 27 June 2008
Use of mobile data services within individual Member States is growing much faster than cross border data roaming services, says a Connect2Roam study carried out for the European Commission. This is because mobile operators are introducing aggressive retail rates to compete with existing broadband offers. However, use of data roaming services remains limited as consumers are discouraged by extremely high charges when compared to national prices, as well as a lack of transparency related to the pricing by volume of data (Megabytes) used. High-volume users are susceptible to bill shocks if, for example, they surf the internet for long periods when using their datacard connection on a laptop computer.
"Mobile data services are the future, and we in Europe were the first to roll them out. When we see their growing popularity nationally, it is clear that high charges for internet services while roaming are artificially stifling demand. A big problem with data roaming is transparency: the average consumer knows the rates and durations of their phone calls, but it is not so easy for them to measure prices and volumes by the megabyte. They are afraid of getting a real bill shock of thousands of euros when getting back from their travels, and therefore unwilling to try out this new service,” said Viviane Reding, the EU's Telecoms Commissioner. "Operators should therefore better inform consumers and business people when they are abroad, both about their retail price plans for data roaming and the ratio of data volumes to price, preferably on a real-time basis. For one last time, I call on mobile operators to react to my request of February to voluntarily but clearly bring down mobile roaming charges for text messages and other data by 1 July.”
Today's study highlights major trends in the use of data roaming:
The European Commission must review the implementation of the Roaming Regulation and report to the European Parliament and Council by the end of the year.
The study published today will form part of the input into this review. The Commission will also draw on the results of a public consultation on the Roaming Regulation closing on 2 July (see (IP/08/718) and the European Regulators Group's report for the last quarter of 2007 and the first quarter of 2008.
In February, Commissioner Reding had called on all mobile operators in Europe to bring down prices for SMS and data services by 1 July 2008.
The report on Roaming Data Services can be found on:
Comments regarding the study can be sent to: