EU Agrees Roaming Cap

After what seems an age, the European Parliament and the 27 member states have reached an agreement on the cuts to mobile roaming charges.
Under the compromised deal the maximum charge for regulated roaming calls will be capped at 0.49 Euros per minute for outgoing calls and 0.24 Euros per minute for incoming calls.

The cap for outgoing calls will decrease automatically by 0.03 Euros per year for a three year years and the cap for incoming calls will decrease by 0.02 Euros after the first year and Eur0.03 after the second year.

The new rates should become law by July and will gradually take effect over three months, toward the end of the lucrative holiday season.

Many operators have already been slashing roaming fees ahead of the new rules but the GSM Association, which represents companies such as Vodafone, called the caps too low.

"Operators won’t be able to compete at prices below those caps. The amount they are proposing to reduce each year is also problematic as those reductions appear arbitrary," the association’s spokesman, David Pringle, said.

Under the package agreed on Tuesday, all customers would be able to switch to or from the EU tariff at any time, free of charge, within one month after the regulation comes into force.

Customers will have three months to choose whether to take up the new EU tariff, but if they make no decision, they will automatically be included.

The 10 to 20 percent of customers already on a special roaming tariff or package, such as Vodafone’s Passport would not be switched automatically.

Britain has claimed that the agreement will cost the UK telecoms industry 500 million Euros a year and the cuts would force the price of handsets up by £25 each.

The full EU Parliament will vote on the compromise text on May 24, with a June 7 meeting of the Member States’ telecoms ministers to formally ratify the agreement.

The legislation’s entry into force should follow a few weeks later, the European Parliament said.

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