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Dublin: 12 °C Thursday 23 May, 2019
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Travellers will be able to choose which network to roam with

New EU rules will mean temporary ‘roaming contracts’ – forcing mobile networks to become more competitive for travellers.

EUROPEAN UNION TRAVELLERS will soon be able to change mobile operators on short-term contracts, while keeping their existing mobile numbers, solely to benefit from their cheaper roaming rates.

Rules unveiled today by European digital agenda commissioner Noelie Kroes will require mobile phone carrier to allow their customers enter short-term, roaming-only contracts with other carriers.

The rules, which will kick in in 2014, will mean EU mobile phone customers will be able to shop around and change mobile phone network solely for the purposes of travelling – enabling them to shop around solely to find the best value roaming packages.

Other new rules will allow mobile phone operators to rent network space at a fixed wholesale price from other networks from 2012 – meaning that networks who are not part of multinational chains will still be able to compete on the roaming market.

The goal of the new rules, when combined with sliding price caps for phone calls, text messages and data downloads, are intended to bring roaming costs into line with domestic mobile phone charges.

“The market has not moved on,” Kroes told reporters today. “Customers still get a raw deal when they cross borders. Operators still enjoy outrageous margins, particularly on data downloads.

“Within a Single Market, there is simply no justification for huge mark-ups, just because you’ve crossed an invisible internal border that is supposed to have disappeared. And just because customers have little or no choice in the matter.

“This has got to stop.”

By 2014, the EU will have introduced a pre-VAT cap of 50c per megabyte of data downloaded, 10c per text message, 24c per minute to make a call and 10c per minute to receive them.

The 24c-per-minute limit for roaming charges is lower than the tariffs that some prepaid customers on Irish networks pay for calls to other Irish numbers, let alone while roaming overseas.

The prices paid by customers to roam in other EU countries were lowered last week as part of the ongoing moves to lower the cost of travel between member states.

Previously: Making mobile calls when abroad now costs less >

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Gavan Reilly

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