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End of mobile roaming charges in the EU

Parliament deal on lower wholesale price caps

On 1st February 2017, Parliament and Council negotiators agreed on wholesale price caps. Caps are significantly lower than those proposed by the Commission. Wholesale price caps define how much telecoms operators can charge each other for using their networks to carry cross-border “roaming” calls.

Mobile roaming charges for EU consumers will end on June 15, 2017, enabling them to call and transfer data across borders from another EU member state for the same cost as at home.

The agreed caps ensure cost coverage for efficient operators throughout Europe but are low enough to sustain competition on the European telecom markets.

Consumers will continue to benefit from competition and will be able to use more data when roaming than with the original proposal from the Commission. Parliament and Council agreed on the following caps:

·        €0.032 for voice call, instead of the proposed €0.04,

·        a gradually decreasing cap, from €7.7 (15/06/2017) to €6 (01/01/2018),  €4.5 (01/01/2019), €3.5 (01/01/2020), €3 (01/01/2021), €2.5 (01/01/2022) per gigabyte instead of €0.0085 per megabyte (or €8.5 per gigabyte), and

·        €0.01 for text messages, as proposed by the Commission.

The deal is a necessary step towards the full abolition of retail roaming surcharges, which will enable consumers to use their mobile phones in other EU countries just as they do at home without paying extra fees.

Wholesale roaming prices indirectly affect consumers’ final bills. The agreed caps should instead enable telecoms operators to offer roaming services to their customers without any extra charges on top of the home market price.

Bigger data transfers

Lower caps for data transfers would enable EU consumers to access more audio-visual content when travelling from a country to another. This could also open up markets for small and virtual telecoms operators.

Next steps

The agreement still needs to be formally approved by the Industry Committee, Parliament as a whole and national ministers before entering into force.

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