News by Michael Oryl on Tuesday March 24, 2009.
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Today the EU announced that the members of the European parliment (MEPs) have reached a compromise on the proposed regulation of mobile voice, SMS, and data rates for EU consumers that are roaming internationally.
The new plan would cap roaming voice calls at 0.43 EUR (US$0.73) per minute for outbound calls and 0.19 EUR (US$0.26) per minute for inbound calls starting on July 1 of 2009. Those rates fall to 0.39 EUR (US$0.53) and 0.15 EUR (US$0.20) per minute on July 1, 2010, and to 0.35 EUR (US$0.47) and 0.11 EUR (US$0.15) per minute on July 1, 2011. Similarly, international roaming SMS rates will be capped at 0.11 EUR per message starting on July 1, 2009, with no further decreases planned for subsequent years.
Data roaming charges are covered by the new plan, as well, but they set caps on the wholesale rates that the carriers can charge each other, not the rates that actual consumers may be charged. Those wholesale rates will start out at 1.00 EUR (US$1.35) per megabyte on July 1, 2009, and will fall to 0.80 EUR (US$1.08) and 0.50 EUR (US$0.68) per megabyte in 2010 and 2011, respectively.
An interesting twist on the proposed data roaming regulations would require that by July 2010, consumers be provided with an automatic data roaming cap of 50 EUR (US$67.58) to prevent bill shock. The consumers are to be warned, presumably by SMS, when they hit 80% of that cap, and are to be given an opportunity to go past the 50 EUR limit if they so chose. Those that do not respond to the cutoff notice they receive at the 50 EUR point will have their data automatically disabled.
The current proposed regulation still requires the approval of certain committees and groups inside the EU government before it can be brought up for a ratification vote in April.