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News: mobile roaming charges cut across the EU from today

Mobile phone on beach

From today, UK consumers who use their mobiles across Europe should see a reduction in their bills. The good news is that further price reductions when roaming are planned in all European Union countries from June next year, at which time all such charges will be abolished.

For the moment however, there is an immediate cap on how much surcharge operators can levy as follows:

  • €0.05 extra per minute for calls
  • €0.02 extra per SMS sent
  • €0.05 extra per MB of data.

According to the UK government, data, texting and phone calls will all be included in the reduced charges and should collectively save us millions of pounds.

“Roughly a million Brits stay the night in Europe every day, and they spend around £350m a year on roaming charges”, said Ed Vaizey, the UK’s minister for the digital economy, adding that “by realising these changes, we’re going to save British consumers millions of pounds a year”.

At the moment, when roaming abroad roaming charges are applied when you connect to another operator, besides the call cost, which typically means a hefty additional charge.

Unsurprisingly the biggest changes will be for those people downloading content such as email, videos and pictures. Such roaming charges will reportedly be reduce by almost three quarters, with call costs being reduced by a similar rate. Texts will end up costing two thirds less than today.

Looking at the figures, that means placing a call in Europe will fall to around 4 pence from more than 16 pence. Likewise, data downloads will cost a maximum of 4 pence from 17.4 pence.

In practical terms, the government claims the average cost of phone calls when roaming will fall by more than 50 percent. However, not everyone will notice the new reduced costs, as some of the UK’s operators already offer special deals and packages that provide cheap calls and downloads when abroad.

O2 claims that many customers will notice an immediate reduction in prices, whereas EE says most will not be affected. Three is one of the operators who offer free roaming in a selection of European countries, with its Roam Like Home package.

By Roland Banks

Roland Banks has been passionate about mobile technology for the past 20 years. He started his career at British Telecom's research division working on collaborative virtual reality environments, before becoming a video streaming specialist at 3 UK where he helped launch some of the world's first mobile video services. More recently he enjoys writing about his obsession, and developing software that helps mobile operators analyse their subscriber data.

Roland has lived in Asia for the past 5 years, and tries to indulge his other passion for riding motorcycles whenever possible.

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