EU caps roaming prices to prevent shock bills

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Horrific mobile roaming bills should be a thing of the past in Europe, thanks to a new cap on charges.

Last year, according to the EU, a German traveler was hit with a €46,000 bill for downloading a TV program while in France, while a British student was billed €9,000 for a month's studying abroad.

Now, though, European mobile phone operators are to be obliged to offer their customers a cut-off limit facility. Customers can fix this themselves; if they haven't done so by July 1, they'll automatically be given a €50 limit. They'll also receive a warning when their bill reaches 80 percent of their cut-off amount.

Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes commented "Protection against data roaming bill shocks is a useful step towards building customers' confidence to use mobile networks to surf the Internet when travelling around Europe. Such confidence is essential if people and businesses are to use the Internet to its full potential".

The new rules are expected to help reduce bills generally. The price that operators pay each other per megabyte downloaded has been limited to a safeguard level of €1 per MB, and will fall over the next two years, says the EU.

In addition, the price of sending a text message has been capped at €0.11. There's a new maximum tariff of €0.43 for making a phone call and €0.19 for receiving one, and operators mucst now use per second billing after the first 30 seconds for calls made and immediately for calls received.

There's more information on the EU website, here.