back to article EU approves roaming tariffs

The EU has given the thumbs up to the Euro tariff for mobile phone roaming. Joachim Wuermeling, speaking on behalf of the German EU Presidency, said legislation should be in place by 29 June. Commissioner for Information Society and Media Viviane Reding said that she wants to see it even sooner. The proposal is that wholesale …


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  1. Tim Spence

    Just in time for summer hols?

    I very much doubt we'll see actual lowering of roaming calls to end-users until after the summer hols, unfortunately.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No sympathy

    I have no sympathy for the GSM Association. They have been ruthless with roaming rates for both contract and pre-paid customers. As for their plea for "self-regulation", well, every protected industry likes to call for that (e.g doctors, banks), and sometimes it works. In the case of mobile operators, the EU have been discussing flat-rate roaming within the EU for a number of years and the industry has not acted to bring rates down.

    Some have offered half-hearted, opt-in services such as Vodafone, with their Vodafone Passport service. However, it is limited as you must roam within their network, and the pricing structure is complicated. Go outside of the Vodafone network and wham, you'll be milked for all you're worth again.

    I'm not really buying the unprofitable routing argument, either. Their primary revenue stream should be when the customer is in their own country, anyway, not making maximum profit while the customer is abroad. What's likely to happen is that there will be much-increased use of mobile phones while roaming, and this will increase profitability.

    Interesting too, is that in 2011 or so, the maximum outgoing call rate will be €0.40 per minute. It should be difficult for operators to justify charging more than that on their domestic network, then, as they currently do!

    It would be good to see a maximum rate for SMS sent/received, and GPRS while roaming also.

    I think it's a great move by the EU to push this through. It's ridiculous really being charged in excess of €1 a minute for receiving calls while in EU countries. AFAIK the lesser-developed US market doesn't have those kind of roaming rates, and it has a bigger land mass.

    Let's hope there are no silly "opt-in" concessions also.

    Your report says the legislation should be in place by June 29. Does this mean the new tariffs become effective then also?

  3. Ben Boyle

    Data charges next?

    Well hopefully now the EU have "fixed" the roaming rates for calls, they can do the same thing for data. I'm still feeling the pain of a £10/Mb bill from Orange.

  4. Nigel


    The operators have been ripping us off for eons. They are not interested in self regulation (or they would have implemented lower rates already in order to have headed off this legislation). I say 'hurray' for the EU who frankly do very little to help the man/woman on the street.

    They should indeed also sort out data charges. I have 10GB/mnth from T-mobile built into my £45/mnth account. They charge me £6/MB while roaming (yep, MB). So.. pulling down a linux ISO would cost me £3900!!!

    My mobille phone over HDSPA IS my broadand so downloading an ISO is no longer an oddity!

    A fair price for data when roaming would be £10 for 100MB


  5. WT

    What about Zebra Roaming?

    The GSMA is not telling the truth when they claim it is not technically possible to provide roaming below 65 cents.

    I remember a presentation at a GSM billing conference in 2002 (?) about an alternative roaming system called "Zebra Roaming".

    I know a well engineered thing when I see it and this one was one of those.

    It was amazingly simple both in concept and technical implementation.

    The basic principle behind this technology was that one should pay the operator in the visited country directly and be treated just like any other local subscriber there, in the process cutting out all the middlemen and overhead that makes roaming so expensive.

    The system would provision a local account in the visited country seamlessly over the air. You'd be notified by SMS of things to know. There was a prepaid and a postpaid option. It was all very well thought out.

    A hotel analogy was offered for illustration: Pay cash upfront at the hotel desk or leave your credit card imprint when you check in, then pay on check out. The hotel analogy also illustrates just how disingenious the current roaming system is: Pay your landlord to pay your hotel bills overseas for you and then charge extra for the administrative overhead and risk involved.

    The integration of this technology was painless, too: A simple drop-in server box and no changes to existing infrastructure. It could even coexist with the conventional roaming system, both services running side by side.

    So, what happened to this thing? Did the operators sleep all this time? Was it inertia? A case of "we only buy from Alcatel/Ericsson/Nokia/Siemens"? Did the clearing houses intervene to stop this in its track?

    Maybe now that the EU is putting on the screws it will hurt enough for a newer, better technology like Zebra Roaming to get a chance. We would all benefit, well perhaps not the clearing houses, but who likes middlemen anyway?!

  6. David Beck

    Still room for Roaming SIMs in you holiday phone

    Having just bought a specialist "roaming" SIM, I was afraid I'd wasted my money until I saw the prices for the new reduced tariffs. The specialist SIMs remain the best value for money when roaming in Europe, .24EUR vs free for incoming calls, .49EUR vs .38EUR for outgoing with the one I'm using and the rates apply to place the EU doesn't touch (Russia for example).

    Here are a couple sites to look at -

  7. SImon Hobson Silver badge

    Well we'll see !

    First thing is we'll see q lot of adjustments to tariffs - they'll add on the losses somewhere.

    But in reality, all their squealing is simply demonstrating that they are at each others throats and ripping each other off ! If they claim that they cannot make a profit on these rates, then who is getting the money ? The simple fact is that EVERY operator screws every other operator for allowing it's customers to roam - that is the ONLY reason why rates are so high. If the operators were to charge each other a fair and proportionate rate then roaming rates would have come down on their own.

    So to the mobile industry, you brought this down on yourselves by your collective stupidity and greed<period> So stop whinging and just get on with it.

  8. Stu

    Current roaming data charges VERY important to include in this legislation.

    After returning from a three day trip to Holland recently, I have personally been whacked with a £1500 data charge bill, apparently I downloaded 200+ Mb of data.

    T-Mobile have subsequently cut off my phone and can do nothing about re-enabling it due to it not being the right billing period (the bill is levied next month). No I didn't understand it either.

    I personally feel I was massively ripped off - at no point was it made clear to me that 3G charges would be so high (£7.50 per Mb), I have no idea how I could possibly have generated 200+Mb of web traffic in 3 days!

    All I got was a notice sent to me via SMS about the phone and SMS rates so I'm trying to negotiate a compromise, but all I'm facing is a blank wall - they say that T-Mob UK have to pay T-Mob Netherlands the full fee and so that is levied against me. They say that nothing can be done about re-enabling my phone OR about possibly reducing my bill until mid June!

    So I sincerely hope this legislation going through affects data tariffs because at the moment we're all being royally screwed by them. It would still be expensive at a tenth the price they are currently charging.

    I would guess that their actual operating costs accounting for my three days in Holland can't ACTUALLY cost more than £20 or £30, so they charge me £1500.

    Any advice guys!? ;-)

    So from here-on-out, I'm not taking a phone abroad with me any more. Payphones are the future!

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