It’s been the cause of much post-holiday shock, as cheery sunburnt tourists arrive home to huge mobile phone bills – but this week sees the first steps towards positive change as the EU has provisionally agreed to cap the costs of calls, texts and even data at much more reasonable rates.
Assuming that the bill passes a vote at the European Parliament, the new roaming charges will come into effect this July – when the cost of making a phone call abroad will be capped at 24p per minute, and receiving at 6p. The cost of text messaging is also set to drop to €0.09 per text. Even data usage will cost less from 1 July, capped at 59p per downloaded megabyte.
Even more promising is the news that prices are set to drop even further in the run-up to July 2014, on a gradual sliding scale in line with new regulations set to push down the charges over time. Call costs per minute at the end of the period should become 15p to call and 4p to receive. Texts will eventually fall to €0.06 and data downloads will become 16p per megabyte.
The news comes as MEPs negotiate with some of the major players in the European mobile industry over their alleged refusal to treat consumers fairly in terms of pricing structure. One such MEP, Giles Chichester, remarked that “many (holidaymakers) are still scared to use their phone for simple pleasures like checking websites or using phone apps” due to the “exorbitant” prices they are expected to pay for the service.
The Conservative MEP for South West England and Gibraltar said: “Mobile roaming charges are being forced down but it regrettable that it always requires EU legislation, rather than action from the industry itself.
“Mobile phone companies will now have to compete for roaming customers like they already compete for domestic customers.
“With the costs of just about everything going up, this is a rare piece of good news for consumers this summer.”