updated 06:30 pm EDT, Mon June 28, 2010
EU-imposed data roaming limits take effect July 1
In its efforts to regulate roaming fees in Europe, the European Union has reaffirmed that roaming data charges will be automatically capped at 50 Euros (about $62) before tax starting on July 1. Users can choose their own limits when traveling in other countries in Europe, and carriers will now have to send a warning message when 80 percent of that limit is reached. Once the limit is reached, they will need to cut off the data connection unless the subscriber has asked for more.
The rules revision will also see maximum wholesale per MB data roaming prices fall by 20 percent. Making calls while roaming will cost a maximum of 39 cents per minute before tax rather than the current 43 cents, with incoming calls costing 15 cents rather than 19 come July 1. This marks a reduction of 73 percent in mobile phone call prices since 2005.
Roaming while in non-EU countries will vary. The maximum data charge will be calculated based on the exchange rate published in the EU's Official Journal as of June 1.
Subscribers will also need to be informed through a message whenever they enter another EU country. This can be done by a text message, e-mail or a pop-up window on computer screens. Voicemail alerts will be free outside of any usual charges.
The new caps are being implemented to prevent what have often been seen as unnecessary surprises for European customers, who travel often but aren't always aware of roaming fees. Like in North America, they have often faced "bill shock," or charges ranging into the hundreds and thousands of dollars simply for using voice and data outside of their native countries. Carriers have protested the EU caps as excessive regulation, but they were also unable to justify their existing rates to officials.