Dublin, 27th June 2013
Minister for Communications, Pat Rabbitte, T.D. announced today that he has signed new regulations that will further combat excessive roaming fees imposed on mobile service users while travelling elsewhere in the EU. The regulations will enable ComReg to use all its investigative and enforcement powers to oblige mobile telephone service providers to implement retail price reductions required by the EU Roaming Regulations.
The EU Commission points out that from 1 July 2013, the EU’s Roaming Regulation will lower the price caps for data downloads by 36%, making it much cheaper to use maps, watch videos, check emails and update social networks while travelling across the EU. Data roaming will now be up to 91% cheaper in 2013 compared to 2007. During this period the volume of the data roaming market has grown 630%. The EU Regulation has introduced per megabyte price limits of €0.70 per megabyte from July 2012, which reduces to €0.45 on July 1st next and reduces further to €0.20 in July 2014.
Commenting on the moves to limit data charges and to avoid “bill-shocks”, for returning travelers the Minister said: “The increasing use of internet-enabled smartphones and tablets means that data roaming is where the most extreme cases of bill shock are likely to occur. The introduction of a maximum retail charge for data, which will fall by more than 300% in two years, will ensure better value for customers.” He continued: “The bill-shock provision, which requires service providers to suspend data services when the bill in any month reaches either €50 or pre-determined amount, will ensure an end to extreme bill–shocks for those returning from abroad.”
The Minister added: “The best protection against nasty surprises still remains being well informed, and before travelling users should ensure to turn off any apps or services that could generate unexpected expenses. Remember also - if you are travelling beyond the EU the charges you will face are not controlled by these European laws and may be much higher.”
Note to editors
The EU Regulation
REGULATION (EU) No 531/2012 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 13 June 2012 on roaming on public mobile communications networks within the Union which commenced 1 July 2012 will bring about harmonised EU roaming charges at lower rates related to costs by imposing maximum permitted retail and wholesale prices including annual reductions in the period between 2012-2014.
Maximum permitted retail prices.
Table of maximum retail prices – excluding VAT.
Service 1 July 2012
€ 1 July 2013
€ 1 July 2014
Outgoing call* 0.29 0.24 0.19
Incoming call* 0.08 0.07 0.05
Call to voicemail free free free
Outgoing SMS/text 0.09 0.08 0.06
Incoming text free free free
Data** 0.70 0.45 0.20
In addition, mobile phone companies are required to:
· suspend data service to any customer when the monthly data-roaming cost reaches €50 (excluding VAT), unless the customer explicitly agrees to a higher limit, and
· operators are obliged to issue customers a prior usage alerts as soon as 80 per cent of the €50 data charge (excluding VAT) or any agreed higher limit is reached
Customers can opt for a higher or lower charge limit
Measures to increase competition to provide roaming services.
From 2014 mobile phone companies must also allow customers to change to a cheaper competing roaming services provider while continuing to use the same handset and number.
Limitation of price regulation
EU Institutions can only legislate to regulate within the EU. The EU roaming regulations also extends by agreement to EEA countries. Travelers going beyond the EU/EEA need to exercise more caution on roaming charges. The requirements to notify customers within the EU of aggregated data costs applies globally unless citizens are travelling to a country where real time data is not provided. In the latter case service providers must advise customers they are moving to an area where the data warning is not available.
Effect of Roaming Regulations on retail pricing
A review of the previous EU Roaming Regulations conducted by the EU Commission shows that retail roaming charges, as a general rule, continue to hover close to the maximum permitted by Regulations. It is reasonable to conclude therefore that competitive pressures alone are not yet driving down retail roaming charges.