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IP/08/1276

Brussels, 28 August 2008

Roaming prices: Calling home becomes cheaper again – but not (yet) texting across borders

On 30 August, it will become cheaper to make or receive calls while travelling in the EU. The price ceiling for roaming calls (the Eurotariff) introduced by the EU in 2007 will fall from €0.49 to €0.46 per minute (excluding VAT) for making a call and from €0.24 to €0.22 per minute (excluding VAT) for receiving a call while in another EU country. These price reductions are the result of the EU Roaming Regulation, proposed by the European Commission in 2006 to curb the excessive roaming charges consumers had to pay for roaming calls (on average €1.15 per minute at the time (IP/06/978)). The EU Roaming Regulation which will expire in 2010, is currently under review. Following the specific request of the European Parliament the Commission must propose by the end of 2008 whether to extend the Regulation in time and in scope. Figures published by national telecoms regulators this summer have shown that prices for roaming text messages and data services remain unjustifiably high (IP/08/1144).

"The EU Roaming Regulation was introduced so that Europeans could exercise freedom of speech with their mobile phones without fear of excessive bills when travelling in the Single Market. As a result over 400 million consumers across Europe have benefited from significant savings of around 60% when making and receiving calls during travel, holiday or business,” said Viviane Reding, EU Telecoms Commissioner. "The further reduction of the Eurotariff on 30 August will reaffirm the trend for lower roaming prices. The next challenge is now to bring about a Single Market for roaming text messages and data services. I count on the French Presidency and on the European Parliament to help the Commission solve this problem very soon. "

The price reductions of 30 August for roaming calls will apply in all 27 Member States. The revised rates for Member States outside the Eurozone (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden and UK) will be calculated using the euro exchange rate of 30 July 2008. In Slovakia, which will join the Eurozone next year (see IP/08/1183), this exchange rate will apply during a transitional period until 31 December 2008. From 1 January 2009, the Eurotariff will be applied in Slovakia using the prevailing euro exchange rate.

Under the present EU Roaming Regulation prices for roaming calls will go down a last time on 30 August 2009 to €0.43 per minute for making calls and to €0.19 per minute for receiving calls while in another EU country.

As requested by the European Parliament and by the Council, the European Commission is currently reviewing the Roaming Regulation. Recent figures of national telecoms regulators show that competition remains too limited below the price ceilings.

On the basis of an independent cost analysis and taking into account falling termination rates, national regulators have also estimated that the price caps agreed by the European Parliament and the Council in the present EU Roaming Regulation are around €0.08 per minute too high, at both wholesale and retail levels. Figures also show that consumers are currently paying 24% more than the minutes they actually use to make calls, and 19% more for calls they receive. National regulators also recommend including wholesale and retail regulation on roamed SMS in a revised Roaming Regulation, leading to a maximum consumer price of between €0.11 and €0.15 per roamed SMS (excluding VAT).

Finally, on 12 August a new report from the European Regulators Group (ERG), the grouping of the EU's 27 national regulatory authorities, shows that the cost of data roaming is still very high for many consumers. In the first quarter of 2008, a customer using data services paid on average €2.05 per megabyte while roaming with companies from their operator’s group and €5.40 per megabyte for roaming with non-group companies. Italian and Slovak consumers who roam with a non-group company can even pay over €12 per megabyte.

The Commission is expected to take a decision on all these matters in the coming weeks.

Background

The current EU Roaming Regulation (IP/07/870) limits the amount operators can charge customers for voice calls when roaming in other EU countries (the Eurotariff). Entering into force on 30 June 2007, it introduced ceilings of €0.49 per minute for making calls and €0.24 per minute for receiving calls abroad.

The Roaming Regulation is limited to voice calls and expires on 30 June 2010 unless, following a Commission proposal, the European Parliament and the Council decide to extend it beyond this date. The Commission must carry out its review and report to the European Parliament and the Council in 2008.

For more information:

http://ec.europa.eu/roaming

See IP/07/1445

ERG Roaming Benchmark Reports:

January 2008: IP/08/58

http://www.erg.eu.int/doc/publications/erg_07_85_intl_roaming_rep.pdf

August 2008:

http://erg.ec.europa.eu/doc/publications/erg_08_36_intern_roam_rep_080812.pdf

Public consultation on the review of the EU Roaming Regulation:

IP/08/718

http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/roaming/index_en.htm

Annex

ERG benchmark data report for roaming voice calls (August 2008)

[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ]

[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ]

[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ]

[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ]

[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ]


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