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Calling rates to drop by the summer holidays

The European Parliament voted through a first-reading compromise agreement on “Roaming on public mobile networks”, the fruit of recent talks between MEPs and the Council Presidency.

 

In doing so – and in negotiating a prompt entry into force of the regulation – the EP has ensured that customers will benefit from cheaper roaming by the summer holidays. The compromise was adopted by an overwhelming majority of members in a show of hands. The crux of the package reflects the very same issues which held the key to the roaming dossier from the outset: caps on wholesale and retail charges, the choice between ‘opt-in’ and ‘opt-out’ models, transparency requirements, entry into force and future review of the legislation. However, inasmuch as the issues are the same, the solutions – in the spirit of compromise – are slightly different.

Prices

According to the compromise, the average wholesale charge (excl. VAT) that a “visited” operator can levy on a roaming customer’s “home” operator for the provision of roaming calls will be capped at €0.30 per minute.  (The Council, at the outset of negotiations, had proposed placing a cap of €0.36 on the average wholesale price) The cap, in line with MEPs’ proposals, will decrease automatically by 2 eurocents per year over a three-year period after the regulation's entry into force.

The maximum retail charge (excl. VAT) for regulated roaming calls, meanwhile, will be capped at €0.49 per minute for calls made and €0.24 per minute for calls received. (The Industry Committee had voted, in its original report, for caps of €0.40 for calls made and €0.15 for calls received. The Council, meanwhile - having initially called for caps of €0.50 for calls made and €0.25 for calls received - entered negotiations with the EP by proposing caps of €0.60 and €0.30, respectively.)

The cap for outgoing calls will decrease automatically by 3 eurocents per year; the cap for incoming calls will decrease by 2 eurocents after the first year and 3 eurocents after the second year. As MEPs insisted, home providers will have to offer the Eurotariff to all their customers – and to do so actively, clearly and transparently. (In addition to the Eurotariff, reads the compromise text, every home provider could also offer “a fair use, all-inclusive monthly flat-rate to which no charge limits apply”. Such a flat rate would include both voice and data roaming services (including SMS and MMS). (EP Press)