Europe makes the call on roaming caps



The European parliament has finally agreed the maximum pricing mobile operators will be able to charge customers for making phone calls while abroad.

Yesterday saw MEPs agree controversial roaming caps that could be introduced across the European Union from this summer.

The politicians have now agreed on a wholesale rate - the price one operator can charge another for consumers who roam on their network - of €0.30 per minute. They have also confirmed the retail rate - what an operator can charge the mobile user - of €0.49 per minute for calls made and €0.24 per minute for calls received.

The wholesale rate will drop by two euro cents during each of the three years the legislation lasts, after which period all caps will lapse as part of a 'sunset clause'. The retail rate for outgoing calls will decrease by three euro cents per year; the cap for incoming calls will fall by two euro cents after the first year and three euro cents after the second year.

According to the parliament, the issue of whether consumers should opt in or opt out of the new tariffs was "a bone of contention" during the discussions. The compromise reached means consumers will be able to opt in to the new pricing schedules, and all mobile users who haven't opted in within three months will automatically be swapped onto the Europe-approved rates.

The proposed legislation will be put before the European parliament's industry committee for approval later this month.