EU to restrict data roaming charges

Good news for mobile users – the EU is planning on making data roaming cheaper next year.

The Guardian reports that the EU will force networks to cap the amount they charge for overseas data roaming at 80p (€0.90) per MB from next July. If that's not enough, here's something else to look forward to – the commission will also allow you to switch to other providers for overseas roaming. The idea being to raise competition, which will hopefully push prices down further.

More good news is that the cap on the cost to consumers of overseas calls and texts, introduced last week, will be lowered over the next three years too. From July 2012, prices will drop for calls made from phones across Europe to £0.28 (€0.32) per minute; £0.25 (€0.28) from July 2013; and £0.21 (€0.24) from July 2014. Surely there can't be a downside to all this? Well, there just might.

As we saw earlier this week, networks are unlikely to want to take the 'hit' and could push up prices elsewhere. In addition, consumer groups don't think it goes far enough, still being too high and not introduced soon enough.

Monique Goyens, director general of the European Consumers' Organisation, said: 'It's reassuring that the commission is tackling the market's structural problems by introducing decoupling of roaming from domestic telecom subscriptions, and at last acting on the increasingly important issue of data roaming. The current cap of €0.90 per MB is a slow start. Consumers should not be ripped off for surfing the net abroad.'

But it is an improvement, there's no question. For example, O2 charges £3.07 per megabyte when roaming in Europe and £6 per MB for the rest of the world, while Vodafone charges £1 per megabyte up to 5MB, then £5 for every additional megabyte after that in Europe. Compare those to the new limits and it will be a great help financially, especially as the EU plans to cut this further before 2014.

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