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EU roaming charges to be axed next year, knocking hundreds of pounds off holidaymakers' bills

June 17, 2013 12:35 PM
By Victoria Bischoff in Daily Mail
Originally published by East Midlands Liberal Democrats
  • Eu Roaming ChargesPhone users will be charged no more for calls than they would be at home

  • From July 1 calls in the EU will not be charged at the same high prices

Plans to scrap exorbitant roaming charges for using a mobile phone abroad have been unveiled.

EU lawmakers have tabled proposals to stop mobile phone giants charging sky-high prices to holidaymakers in Europe.

The move would mean phone users would be charged no extra for making or receiving a call abroad than they would normally pay at home.

If the proposal is given the green light it could knock hundreds of pounds off the bills of UK holidaymakers, who on average spend an extra £120 on their mobile phone on each trip abroad, according to price comparison website uSwitch.

A ban on roaming charges would follow a cap that has already been agreed.

From July 1, calls made by British travellers in the EU will cost a maximum of €0.24 (20p) a minute, or €0.07 (6p) a minute to receive one. Text messages are €0.08 (7p) each and downloading one megabyte of data - the equivalent of sending around 40 emails or browsing five web pages - is capped at €0.45 (38p).

On top of this no one can be charged more than €50 (£43) in one billing period, over their normal monthly contract. These charges were expected to fall further next year, but the EU now plans to ban them altogether.

Receiving a text in Europe has been free since 2009.

Ernest Doku, from uSwitch, said: 'Around one in seven Brits arrive home from holiday to a massive phone bill due to the charges they have racked up on foreign turf.

'Scrapping all roaming charges in EU countries is a real win for consumers. Not only will we be better protected from the shock of these steep bills, but the doors will be open to foreign networks looking for a piece of the market in Britain, which could mean cheaper mobile deals too.'

Caps on charges for using mobile phones in Europe have been in place since 2007. At the time phone companies were estimated to make around £3.4billion from these fees.

Since that first crackdown, British holidaymakers have saved an estimated £1.5billion. However, while charges have fallen by around three-quarters since the first cap, mobile phone usage abroad has risen by 630 per cent.

As a result the amount phone firms make from roaming charges is thought to total tens of billions of euros.

A British person who travels abroad for 15 days a year, checks a few emails every day, and uses the internet for half an hour would still pay around £75.

If the ban on the charges goes ahead, it could mean holidaymakers are just charged the standard rate in their contract and would be able to use any inclusive call and text minutes they have, from as early as July 2014.

However, industry experts believe an outright ban would lead to firms hiking normal prices to recoup some of the lost income.

Neelie Kroes, the digital commissioner of the European Union, said: 'I have said from day one in this job that roaming charges should go.

'I want to show the EU is useful to people's lives.'

A spokesman for the European Commission said: 'Roaming charges is the one thing everyone agrees on.

'Members of the European Parliament will want to get the ban agreed sooner rather than later so they can go to the elections in May next year and say "look what we did".'

The EU aims to publish a legal proposal for the ban at the end of July which will then be put to national leaders in October.