Mobile roaming costs tumble as EU plan comes into force

Mobile roaming charges across Europe are set to tumble as of today, with new limits imposed by the European Union coming into force.

The amount network operators can charge users for making and receiving calls, and browsing the Internet abroad has been capped, making phone use substantially cheaper for tourists.

Beginning 1 July 2013, making a call outside your own country will cost a maximum of 24 Euro cents (21p) per minute, compared to 29 cents this time last year, and 43 cents back in 2009.

Internet use has been cut from the 2012 rate of 70 cents per megabyte used to 45 cents per megabyte, while receiving a call and sending an SMS are both a cent cheaper from last year, at 7 cents and 8 cents respectively.

The EU’s initiative will further reduce costs for consumers in 2014, with the maximum charges then falling to 19 cents per minute for making a call, 5 cents per minute for receiving a call, 6 cents for sending an SMS, and just 20 cents per megabyte for Internet data. Receiving SMS messages is currently free of charge in another EU country, and will remain as such.

As the figures demonstrate, the most significant drops come in mobile Internet use as the EU sets out to end “bill shocks” where users leave roaming capabilities switched on while abroad and inadvertently rack up hefty charges.

Further aiding this plan is the obligation for mobile operators to send users a warning when they reach 80 per cent of their data-roaming limit and cut off connectivity when the limit has been reached - unless the user has stated they wish to continue roaming.

The initiative forms part of EU Commissioner Neelie Kroes’ vision of a more free and open Internet across Europe, with the net neutrality plan at the heart of her ambitions.