EU Looking to Cut Excessive Mobile Roaming Charges

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The European Commission is set to introduce legislation that will significantly reduce mobile phone roaming charges in Europe, according to Reuters.  

The draft proposal, crafted by digital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes, is designed to eliminate the "bill shock" that many Europeans have experienced when returning from travel in a foreign country. The move is also expected to cut into the margins of some of Europe's main wireless carriers, including Vodafone, Telefonica and Deutsche Telekom, among others.

Under the new proposal, the EU would place a $0.34 per minute cap on voice roaming charges by July 1, 2014. The change would represent a 40 percent drop from the current cap of $0.39. Sources told Reuters that higher voice roaming charges would virtually be eliminated by 2016. Text messages while roaming will also be reduced from 11 cents to 10 cents.

Kroes also plans on imposing a cap on roaming charges for the mobile Web. Currently, there are no limits on what a carrier can charge for data roaming in Europe. The average charge for surfing the Web on a mobile device is a whopping $3.56 per downloaded megabyte, according to the New York Times.

The plan would place a data roaming cap of $0.90 cents per megabyte starting on July 1, 2012. This limit would be lowered by 20 cents in 2013 and an additional 20 cents in 2014.

The EU draft proposal will also include two significant structural changes. Under the new legislation, consumers will have the right to purchase roaming services from a company other than their domestic provider. The second change will require operators to give virtual resellers, known as Mobile Virtual Network Operators, access to their network at fair prices.

Both structural modifications are intended to increase competition in the EU and further reduce roaming charges, which are compounded by standard tariffs.

Kroes will present the draft on June 22 in Brussels, according to the Times.

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Beecher Tuttle is a TechZone360 contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

TechZone360 Contributor

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