Mobile roaming in Europe gets cheaper

Squeeze that Eurotariff...

Squeeze that Eurotariff...

Making calls abroad in the European Union (EU) is about to become a little bit cheaper.

The European Commission is set to shave a few euro cents off its 'Eurotariff' roaming rate cap, which puts a limit on the amount operators can charge customers for making or receiving calls when abroad in the European Union.

The cap was introduced by the EC back in 2007 as part of the EU Roaming Regulation, which came into force on 30 June that year and was aimed at driving down the costs for consumers of using their mobiles when abroad in Europe.

As set out in the regulation, the Eurotariff will drop from €0.49 to €0.46 per minute (excluding VAT) for making a call and from €0.24 to €0.22 per minute (excluding VAT) for receiving a call while in another EU country on 30 August. The new lower rates will apply in all 27 EU Member States.

The revised rates for Member States outside the Eurozone (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden and UK) will be calculated using the euro exchange rate of 30 July 2008, the EC added.

Viviane Reding, EU telecoms commissioner, said in a statement: "The further reduction of the Eurotariff on 30 August will reaffirm the trend for lower roaming prices."

The Regulation also makes provision for the tariff to be squeezed further next year - to €0.43 per minute for making calls and to €0.19 per minute for receiving calls.

The Regulation itself will expire in 2010 and is currently under review. The Commission must propose by the end of this year whether to extend the legislation in time and scope.

SMS roaming and data roaming could well be included in any new legislation, Reding suggested.

She said: "The next challenge is now to bring about a single market for roaming text messages and data services. I count on the French Presidency and on the European Parliament to help the Commission solve this problem very soon."

Figures published by national telecoms regulators this summer have shown that prices for roaming text messages and data services remain unjustifiably high, the EC said. A decision on these matters is expected to be made in the coming weeks, it added.