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snidely (Offline)
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Default Data Charges to be regulated when roaming EU? - 16-02-2011, 02:22

From today's NY Times

Europe Seeks Ways to Lower Data Roaming Charges
By KEVIN J. O’BRIEN
Published: February 14, 2011



BARCELONA — The European telecommunications commissioner said on Monday that she probably would seek new regulations to end the high charges Europeans face when using data services on smartphones outside their home countries.

Speaking here on the opening day of the Mobile World Congress, the industry’s largest convention, the commissioner, Neelie Kroes, said that limits on the fees operators charge each other for mobile data roaming, which were enacted in 2007, had failed to significantly lower costs to consumers.

Mobile data roaming involves uses like downloading e-mail or reading a newspaper on a phone, as opposed to simply making a voice telephone call.

Prices for mobile data roaming across European borders can reach 2.60 euros, or about $3.50, a downloaded megabyte, compared with an average of 5 cents a megabyte paid at home, Mrs. Kroes said.

“I would love to be able to say to you today that the roaming market is competitive, that data roaming charges approach domestic prices, that bill shocks are a thing of the past, that prices for voice and SMS roaming are not clustered around the maximum levels permitted,” she said. “Regrettably, I cannot.”

European laws on mobile roaming charges set limits on how much consumers can be charged for voice services, but place only wholesale caps on data services. They are both set to expire in July 2012.

Mrs. Kroes is studying whether to extend the caps, impose new ones or introduce other measures to improve competition. Her recommendation, expected by the end of June, would then be taken up by the European Parliament and national governments.

Mobile operators, which lost a fight against the initial price caps in 2007, have said that the market for data roaming is not big enough to create true competition and that domestic prices are falling rapidly.

Mrs. Kroes, a Dutch economist, acknowledged the argument in her speech but said operators were using market developments as an excuse to maintain unreasonably high charges.

“Of course incentives to compete on roaming prices are not as strong as the pressures on domestic prices,” she said. “But that is not a justification for the current rip-offs.”

Mrs. Kroes opened a review of the market in December, soliciting comments from operators, consumers and others. During her speech, Mrs. Kroes said that high mobile data roaming prices were hindering the commission’s broader goal of making fast broadband service, with download speeds of at least 30 megabits a second, available to all residents of the 27-member European Union by 2020.

She outlined three options under consideration to reduce them. One would impose retail price caps on mobile data roaming charges similar to those on voice, which led to an increase in the use of cross-border mobile calling. Another would allow consumers to buy roaming packages from any operator, not just their own. A third would set lower wholesale price caps on data roaming and require operators to sell the service to low-cost virtual operators like Tele2 of Sweden, a specialist reseller of services on other operator’s networks.

Without saying which option she backed, she suggested that at the least, the current regulation would be extended beyond 2012.

“It may be that no single approach will do the job on its own,” she said. “And we cannot exclude that different approaches may need to be implemented for the first years following the expiry of the current regulation while laying the groundwork for more sustainable long-term solutions. ”

The chief executives of the five largest mobile operators in Europe, Telefónica, Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom, France Télécom and Telecom Italia, were scheduled to discuss roaming privately Monday in Barcelona.
A version of this article appeared in print on February 15, 2011, on page B4 of the New York edition.


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A/o Oct 20, 2013 no need for intl prepaid as T-Mobile U.S. includes voice roaming at 20¢/min (in and out)., unlimited text (in and out), and unlimited data in 140+ countries.

My Plan -[6 lines] U.S. T-Mobile unlimited minutes (incoming and outgoing), unlimited text, fast data on each line. that $145/mo. total! . (In U.S. no surcharge for calling a cell.) If a line exceeds 2G of data in a month, pay $10 more for that line. [That only happens a couple times/year.
   
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adam917 (Offline)
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Default 16-02-2011, 03:55

How would buying roaming data packages from another operator other than one's own actually work in practice? When it comes to data, isn't one charged right from connected to the foreign operator's network? Most phones these days are connected & sending back & forth data signals all the time unless the phone's completely off.

I think the increments people are charged in really need to be checked into. What good is it being charged say €1/MB if the minimum increment is 100 KB?

I once read a long & detailed PDF on European roaming & the various systems & advantages/disadvantages of each charging method. I wish I could find it again (if I do, I'll update this post) as it is pretty informative especially for people who are unfamiliar.
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Default 16-02-2011, 05:06

http://ec.europa.eu/information_soci...ta_roaming.pdf - the document I was referring to earlier. It is from 2008-06-24 so some of the information may be inaccurate but the gist of it still holds true. Most of that document can apply outside the EU as well.

(For instance, T-Mobile USA has few options for roamers besides unlimited BlackBerry e-mail for $19.99/month prorated, & their standard per KB charges of 1 cent per KB in Canada & 1.5 cents everywhere else outside the US & Canada. AT&T, on the other hand, is more complicated but offers some cheaper options compared to T-Mobile - which sounds strange given that T-Mobile is present in several countries - for travellers going to many, but not all, countries. The very cheapest still works out to $0.99995/MB & that's only if the entire 200 MB bundle is used & the highest rates are of course their standard rate of 1.95 cents per KB.)

PS: Can a moderator merge this post with my initial one in this thread?
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Default 17-02-2011, 21:05

Wow, that is quite a document! Thanks for sharing this find, adam917.


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