A European Commission report out today says that although roaming charges are coming down in line with roaming caps, they still have some way to go.
The European Commission's interim report on roaming published today found roaming call costs had fallen by more than 70 per cent since 2005 and sending a text message between EU member states now costs 60 per cent less.
It also found consumers were making more use of roaming services.
Despite an estimated 12 per cent decline in travel, some 20 per cent more text messages were sent in the summer of 2009 than in the previous summer, following the introduction of the EU-wide 11 cents (9 pence) SMS price cap. And data roaming services grew by more than 40 per cent by volume last year alone.
But the report concluded consumers still do not enjoy significantly lower tariffs than those imposed by EU rules than would be possible with a more competitive market.
Commission vice president for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes said the cost of using mobile phones or devices when abroad in the EU has fallen continuously since the adoption of the first roaming rules.
“But three years since the rules came in, most operators propose retail prices that hover around the maximum legal caps. More competition on the EU roaming market would provide better choice and even better rates to consumers," stated Kroes.
In fact, it was the Commission’s view that EU rules give operators “plenty of margin to offer more attractive roaming tariffs below the regulatory limits”.
And it restated its goal that, ultimately, the difference between roaming and national tariffs should approach zero by 2015, in line with the objectives of its Digital Agenda.
The Commission is due to review the 2009 roaming rules by June 2011.
Giles Nelson, Progress Software deputy chief technology officer, noted that the networks collected €8.5bn (£6.9bn) in roaming fees in 2006.
“While I’m sure the operators will feel the pinch with this added pressure, it’s up to them to respond and react accordingly to keep ahead in the current climate,” he added.
Clodagh Murphy, director of Eclipse Internet also welcomed the Commission's efforts to reduce mobile roaming charges. “However, the cost of using the mobile internet is still very confusing for most users in the UK,” she added.
Murphy called for the industry to respond to Ofcom’s recent call for open and transparent usage policies, “so customers feel informed to make a choice, and reassured their provider is offering a fair deal”.
New data roaming price caps come into force on 1 July.
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