As expected, the European Commission (EC) on Wednesday proposed a €0.90 (US$1.29) per megabyte cap on mobile data roaming rates that currently average at €2.23 (US$3.19) per megabyte throughout the European Union (EU). The EC also unveiled rules that would allow customers of one wireless carrier to switch to the carrier of their choice when using their mobile phones abroad. Citing “the lack of competition,” EC digital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes told reporters that the goal of the proposed regulation is to “immediately bring down prices for data roaming, where operators currently enjoy outrageous profit margins” while “giving customers more choice . . . by giving alternative operators easier access to the roaming market.” The proposal would also extend through 2022 caps on wholesale roaming rates for voice calls that were first implemented by the EC five years ago while reducing caps on retail voice roaming prices through June 30, 2016. Upon the expiration of current roaming rate rules in 2012, caps on retail voice roaming rates would decline from €0.35 to €0.32 per minute, to be followed by further reductions to €0.28 per minute in 2013 and €0.24 per minute in 2014. At the same time, the proposed €0.90 per megabyte cap on data roaming that would go into effect in June 2012 would be reduced to €0.70 in 2013 and to €0.50 from 2014 through 2016. The rules will become effective upon ratification by the EU Council and European Parliament. Declaring, “until now, we have merely treated the symptoms of high prices,” Kroes predicted that “our new solution will . . . cure the patient for good.” Maintaining that it has already taken steps to lower roaming costs, France Telecom pledged to continue working with the EC to deliver “a fair and transparent roaming service to customers.”
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EC proposes cap on mobile data roaming rates
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