European Commission - Press release
Digital Agenda: Commission proposes more competition, more choice and lower prices for mobile phone users abroad
Brussels, 6 July 2011 - A proposal for a long-term solution to the continued high cost of using mobile phones and other mobile devices whilst travelling in the EU (roaming) has been presented by the European Commission. The directly binding Regulation proposed would for the first time introduce structural measures to boost competition by allowing customers from 1 July 2014, if they so wish, to sign up for a cheaper mobile roaming contract, separate from their contract for national mobile services, whilst using the same phone number. The proposal would also give mobile operators (including so-called virtual mobile operators, who do not have their own network) the right to use other operators' networks in other Member States at regulated wholesale prices, and so encourage more operators to compete on the roaming market.
To cover the period until structural measures become fully effective and competition drives retail prices down, the proposal would progressively lower current retail price caps on voice and texting (SMS) services and introduce a new retail price cap for mobile data services. By 1 July 2014, roaming consumers would pay no more than 24 cents per minute to make a call, a maximum 10 cents per minute to receive a call, maximum 10 cents to send a text message and maximum 50 cents per Megabyte (MB) to download data or browse the Internet whilst travelling abroad (charged per Kilobyte used).
Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice President for the Digital Agenda, said: “This proposal tackles the root cause of the problem – the lack of competition on roaming markets – by giving customers more choice and by giving alternative operators easier access to the roaming market. It would also immediately bring down prices for data roaming, where operators currently enjoy outrageous profit margins."
The proposal aims to meet the objective set in the Digital Agenda for Europe that differences between roaming and national telecoms tariffs should approach zero by 2015 (see IP/10/581, MEMO/10/199 and MEMO/10/200). This objective will be met if competition in mobile markets gives consumers a rapid and easy choice of roaming service at, or close to, domestic prices. The proposal will be submitted to the European Parliament and EU's Council of Ministers for adoption.
A report adopted by the Commission today on the current roaming Regulation indicates that it has temporarily reduced prices for roaming phone calls and text messages but has not remedied the lack of competition in the roaming market, with prices remaining stubbornly close to the retail caps. This confirms findings of the preliminary report published on 30 June 2010 (see IP/10/851).
The Commission's proposal would tackle the current lack of competition and consumer choice by:
Until these structural solutions fully delivered their results the proposal would:
Under the new Regulation, operators would still be obliged to provide information on roaming prices to consumers when crossing into another Member State, but customers would be able to easily opt out of receiving this information.
For more information
European Commission's roaming website:
Digital Agenda website: http://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda
Neelie Kroes' website: http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/kroes/
Follow Neelie Kroes on Twitter: http://twitter.com/neeliekroeseu
Current and proposed retail price caps (excluding VAT)
Current and proposed wholesale price caps (on prices operators charge each other):
The proposed retail caps serve as a mere safety-net for consumers, while the Commission expects that the proposed competition-enhancing structural measures will deliver innovative pan-European offers and cheaper prices, significantly below the safeguard caps