The EU has given approval, albeit preliminary, to new roaming regulations that could see voice and data roaming charges reduced significantly by 2011, with an upper limit on data roaming charges that should stop subscribers inadvertently running up huge bills for data downloads--hopefully bringing an end to "bill shock."
In summary, the new cross-border charges should be reduced as follows:
- The wholesale price of data roaming should fall from the current €2.05 average to €1 per megabyte from July 1 2009. Then to €0.80 from July 1, 2010, and to just €0.50 from July 1, 2011.
- The retail price of SMS roaming should fall from the current €0.49 average per message to €0.11 from July 1 this year.
- There will be an upper price limit of €50 for data roaming charges with operators required to inform the user when they have reached 80 per cent of their desired data roam rate and will block roaming services if a user does not respond.
- Per-second voice billing starting after the first 30 seconds as opposed to charging phone calls by the beginning of every minute.
However, while the EU might impose these changes on European mobile operators, it remains unclear how much of these reductions might be passed on to consumers--the data roaming pricing is based upon wholesale costs which could be hidden from the consumer by bundling.
Prior to enforcing these measure they must now be endorsed by the parliament's industry committee and the Council of Ministers before going to a parliamentary plenary in April.
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