There’s good news for anyone planning to take their mobile phone overseas in the near future – as it could soon cost less to use mobile phones while travelling across the European Union.
That’s because MEPs have voted for a significant cut in the price companies can charge for both texts and calls – and, for the first time ever, they have introduced a maximum fee for data usage. It is hoped that the move will help to increase competition for mobile phone roaming in the single market.
What will happen?
The staged cuts are expected to be implemented over several years. However, from July 1, 2014, roaming customers won’t be charged more than 15 cents a minute to make a call; five cents to send a text; and 20 cents per megabyte of data. Currently the limit on what can be charged is much higher – nearly double for both texts and calls and there is no cap on what can be charged on a megabyte of data.
The move comes after a series of complaints by customers. Recently BBC’s Newsround carried a report on roaming and quoted incidents such as that of Robbie Smythe, 29, from Ipswich in England, who faced an £800 phone bill after a stag-do in Krakow, Poland; while Nicole Cziborr, 19, from Berlin, Germany, who flies regularly to the UK to see her boyfriend, doesn’t use the internet at all while in the UK because the prices are so high.
Now however, MEPs hope that the plan will not only cut usage costs, but also help to create a roaming market within the European Union. They want customers to be able to sign contracts for roaming deals that are separate from their main provider but are still available on the same number. Currently, their plans still need to be approved by full Parliament, but that is expected to be little more than a rubber-stamping exercise – the real issue will be getting the backing of the Council of Ministers in order to get the package signed off by the whole European Union.
According to reports, Vodafone and T-Mobile have already made plans to reduce prices; while 3 Mobile has said it would like caps and cuts to go further as it would prefer some revenue rather than none if customers switch off their phones abroad.
Elsewhere, there are several offers and deals available from the leading networks in Ireland. For example, voucher code website Moneysaver.ie currently lists a number of offers from Vodafone Ireland such as: home phone and broadband for €38; and a wide range of smart phone deals; while 3 Mobile Ireland has offers such as broadband from €9.99/month and 3G plans for the Apple iPad and other tablets.