updated 01:40 pm EDT, Wed March 28, 2012
European roaming laws go into effect this July
Mobile phone owners in Europe will get the option to choose their own roaming carriers in the countries they visit. This is thanks to a new deal inked between the European Parliament, the European Council, and the European Commission. The original proposal to this effect was made last July.
Users will have the ability to choose a roaming contract from a carrier of the country they are visiting ahead of time and retain their original number. Once they cross the border, the new contract will go into effect. Currently, users need to pay their current provider for the overseas minutes and data use at much higher prices.
An approval for the deal is expected to come in May from the European Parliament, with the European Council passing it in June. The rules are expected to come into effect on July 1. The price caps include 29 euro cents per minute to make a call, 8 cents to receive a call, 9 cents for a text message, and 70 cents per megabyte when browsing, charged on a per kilobyte basis. A warning text will need to be sent when users get near 50 euros of data downloads when abroad.
The public will need to wait until the summer of 2014 before it gets better prices, however, which will be fixed for roaming calls, texts, and data use in Europe until June 30, 2017. During that period, users will pay a maximum of 19 cents per minute to make a call, no more than 5 cents to receive one, and a maximum of 6 cents for a text message and 20 cents per megabyte.
Virtual mobile operators and resellers can access other carrier networks at regulated wholesale prices. The EU believes this will increase competition among carriers and result in lower prices. Carriers have often objected as they believe the deals erode profit, although they haven't quantified how much they make from existing roaming terms. [via The Next Web]