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MEPs vote to make further cuts to roaming charges

A Brussels committee votes to lower the ceiling for roaming charges within the EU, with call charges set to fall by June.

Image: Yui Mok/PA Wire

A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT has voted to lower the cap on rates that EU mobile phone networks can charge their customers when roaming elsewhere within the bloc.

The Brussels committee on Industry, Research and Energy voted to lower the caps from June, cutting the maximum charge for roaming phone calls from 35c a minute to 25c a minute from this June.

The proposals would also see that cap lowered to 15c per minute from 2014, with the ultimate goal of abolishing roaming charges altogether – allowing all mobile users to use their phones across the EU with the same tariffs as they would have in their home country.

SMS costs would be capped at 10c in 2014, while data download costs would be limited to 50c per megabyte.

Furthermore, the proposals would also mean that mobile phone users could change mobile network when abroad, with just one working day’s notice, if this means they can get cheaper roaming packages.

The move does not automatically mean that rates will come down, as they also need backing from the European Commission before they can be enforced.

The digital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes has previously backed aggressive cuts to roaming charges, and is likely to support the latest packages.

Speaking yesterday at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Kroes said a “local break-out” billing model was the best option for data customers.

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“It is a simple solution which you can select and log onto just as easily as to a WiFi network. That’s a boost for competition; and a boost for consumer confidence,” she said.

Fine Gael senator Catherine Noone heralded the proposed caps as a victory for Irish consumers.

“For too long mobile customers have suffered as a result of overpriced charges for using their phones while they are abroad, whether it’s for business or pleasure.

“This will not only help out holidaymakers, it should also help to reduce costs for business travellers who carry out work across Europe and further afield.

And it’s good news for people coming to Ireland for a holiday – it will be cheaper for them to send pictures home, update their Facebook profile with holiday snaps, and generally promote this great country and what it has to offer.

Read: Vodafone to pay €400,000 penalty over roaming charges

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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