The Industry Committee amended the 2007 mobile roaming regulation, which would otherwise expire by the end of June 2010, to set a new roaming call price cap (“Eurotariff”) for 2010 to mid-2012 and introduce a price cap for text messages.
€0.40 per minute cap on calls while abroad from July 2010 to mid-2012
Industry Committee MEPs agree with the Commission that from July 2010 travellers should pay a maximum of €0.40 per minute (excl. VAT) for making a phone call abroad and a maximum of €0.16 per minute (excl. VAT) for receiving calls.
However, the committee rejected all proposals to further reduce these price ceilings from 2011 onwards. MEPs voted against a Commission proposal gradually to lower the retail price caps to €0.37 per minute (excl. VAT) for outgoing calls and €0.13 per minute (excl. VAT) for incoming ones from July 2011 and to €0.34 per minute (excl. VAT) and €0.10 per minute (excl. VAT) respectively from July 2012.
MEPs want the price regulation to expire by 30 June 2012, whereas the Commission wanted to extend it to mid-2013.
No more hidden costs: per second billing from the first second
Contrary to the Commission's proposal, home providers should not apply any initial minimum charging period, say MEPs. The committee lays down that operators must charge roamed calls by the second from the first second of each mobile call made or received abroad - the Commission had proposed from the 31st second.
€ 0.11 per text message
Industry Committee MEPs agreed with the Commission that from 1 July 2009 travellers should pay a maximum of €0.11 (plus VAT) per text message (SMS).
Cheaper mobile internet surfing
MEPs agreed with the Commission that data roaming services (such as sending emails and picture or web-browsing from mobile phones or laptops) are to be regulated at wholesale level – i.e. that a price cap should be set for the rates the host operator charges a roaming customer’s home operator. Yet, MEPs considered the €1.00 per megabyte price cap proposed by the Commission much too high and lowered it to €0.50 per megabyte. MEPs also want data roaming charges to be calculated on a kilobyte basis in order to avoid hidden costs.
No immediate cut-off when reaching data roaming limit
To prevent “bill shocks”, the Commission suggested that by July 2010 home providers should offer their users a “Cut-Off limit” – i.e. when customers reach a maximum financial limit set in advance, they would automatically be cut off all data roaming services.
MEPs, however, favour a gradual approach: providers should warn their customers via mobile phone, email address or a pop-up window on the computer screen when 80% of the agreed "maximum usage limit" has been reached. Once the limit is reached, another notification should be sent, indicating the procedure to be followed if the customer wishes to continue data roaming. Only if the user does not respond should the provider should cease all data roaming services.
The committee also specifies that one of these maximum usage limits should be set at €50 (excluding VAT) or 20 megabytes per month.
No charges for voicemail messages abroad from July 2010
From 1 July 2010 at the latest, consumers will no longer have to pay for receiving a roaming voicemail message while abroad in the EU, says another amendment added by the Industry Committee.
Assess alternatives to price regulation
By mid-2011 at the latest the Commission will have to review inter alia “the extent to which consumers have benefited through real reductions in the price of roaming services” and the competitive situation of smaller, independent or newly started operators, state MEPs. Besides, they want the Commission to “assess alternative regulatory options to the regulation of prices”.
In the coming weeks, a team of MEPs led by rapporteur Adina-Ioana Vălean (ALDE, RO) will start informal negotiations with the Council’s Presidency to reach a compromise on the proposal before Parliament’s first reading at the 21-24 April plenary session.