European mobile roaming charges slashed

Keeping up with the World Cup on your smartphone on holidays has just got cheaper.

The cost of downloading data to use maps, watch videos, check the news, match results, and keep in touch with your friends on social media has been more than halved from last year.

Phone calls and text messages cost about 25% less than they did over the past year. Even better roaming deals can be had if you check out the local providers before you travel to another EU country.

A football fan on holiday in another EU country for a week from today can check a map five times, spend 30 minutes a day on social media, upload one large photo a day, watch the best goals video on YouTube for 10 minutes a day, download a World Cup app, browse online news for 10 minutes a day, and check the weather forecast daily, all for just €30.84 per week.

During the World Cup in South Africa in 2010, it would have produced a homecoming bill of €983.75. The average cost for 1MB of data has come down from €5 to just 25c.

Since the European Commission started taking action seven years ago, roaming charges have come down by up to 90%.

However, according to the Commissioner, Neelie Kroes, roaming within the EU should be abolished completely, and she hopes to achieve this by the end of the year.

“This huge drop in data roaming prices will make a big difference to all of us this summer. But it is not enough. Why should we have roaming charges at all in a single market?” she asks.

Ending such charges has been agreed by the European Parliament, but member states have still to seal the deal, and in the past some of them were more anxious to protect the interests of the service providers than of the consumers.

The industry argues it needs to maintain higher prices to ensure enough money to improve infrastructure and service.

However, the commission has argued that cheaper prices increases business, and that since the EU introduced a cap on data roaming charges consumption has increased dramatically. The cost of making a call before Vat is 19c a minute, to receive a call costs 5c a minute, and sending a text costs 6c.


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