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June 30, 2014

Roaming prices drop across EU

Calling while on vacation will become significantly cheaper

New roaming charges within the EU will come into effect July 1. The rules apply to the EU 28 plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. They do not apply to Switzerland.

Rates have been regulated  by the European Commission since 2007, with a series of progressive changes. “Weak competition among national operators for roaming customers has, at times, led to excessive prices for these services,” an EU statement said when regulations first came into play. “High premiums for roaming and intra-EU calls are an excessive irritant to business and leisure customers; they are a market distortion with no rational place in a single market – they teach users to fear their phones instead of using them.”

The latest round of cuts comes along with increased use of smartphones while traveling, and the EU issues an uncharacteristically enthusiastic statement. “It’s a big summer sale courtesy of the European Commission! From 1 July 2014, the EU will cut the price caps for data downloads by more than half: down from 45 cents per megabyte to 20c/MB. It will become even cheaper to use maps, watch videos, check mails and update social networks while travelling across the EU,” a June 24 press release said.

The new rates will apply until June 30, 2017. As a goal, the EU hopes that roaming fees and standard fees will reach the same level. “The difference between roaming and national tariffs should approach zero by 2015,” an EU statement says.

The rates are significantly lower for calls, sending SMS or MMS, as well as for data connection for both end consumers and operator-to-operator fees.

In the Czech Republic, operators O2, T-mobile and Vodafone are expected to uphold price cap regulations set by the European Commission, which in concrete terms means that an incoming call will not cost more than 1.66 Kč and outbound calls will be charged a maximum of 6.30 Kč. Maximum rates for sending SMS will drop to 1.99 Kč and the cost of sending MMS and using 1 MB of data will not exceed 6.63 Kč.

Virtual mobile operators that provide services mostly based on the use of pre-paid SIM cards are able to offer significant price reductions. “For instance, Sazka Mobil offers rates at 20 percent lower than current EU regulations and OpenCall mobile offers mobile roaming rates that are as much as 45 percent lower than the price caps imposed by the European Commission,” OpenCall said in a press release.

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