Android Central

For Europeans, going on vacation with a smartphone can be an expensive time. Currently, networks are allowed to charge what they like for calls, texts and data when roaming in another country. Packages are available, but often these are as almost as expensive as paying by the MB. An example -- my trip to BlackBerry Devcon Europe in February cost me £20 for just 20MB of data. Times are to begin to change though, as an EU Parliament vote has passed that is designed to reduce the cost of using your phone abroad. 

Effective from July, the new rates see caps imposed in EU countries of 24p a minute for calls, and 58p per MB of data. It could still be an expensive trip, but the fact is still that it's a step in the right direction. In addition, from 2014, mobile users will be able to choose which networks they roam on. The overall strategy is to introduce some parity between domestic and international mobile charges across the EU by 2015. 

via Coolsmartphone

 
There are 32 comments

sukisluice says:

As it stands networks are not allowed to charge whatever they like whilst roaming - the EU set limits on the charges they could apply for making/receiving calls and messages a couple of years ago although initially the legislation didn't cover data usage until sometime later.

These are just new lower limits - I believe previously it was 35p per min and £1.50 per MB or at least that was what 3UK where charging me whilst roaming on Orange in France and Play in Poland which I would imagine to be the maximum they could get away with.

But you're right - even with those revised rates you could still rack up a big bill so I'll probably continue to swap out SIM cards for a domestic one whilst abroad.

ccteo1 says:

Richard,

You say "the fact is still that it's a step in the right direction".

How is the government telling businesses how much they can charge for services or for their products a "step in the right direction"? Should the next step be the government deciding how much a loaf of bread or fish and chips cost?

Just wondering, as in my opinion the capitalist economic system is responsible for all the advancements in technology, and not the centralized state-economies of the old USSR, Venezuela or Cuba.

Thank you!

This has nothing to do with technology. It has everything to do with being ripped off. Governments are supposed to look after the people. Not the corporations.

SoonerGM says:

It's not really a rip off if you are willing to pay the price for that service. People are paying it, so what is the problem? It may seem like you HAVE to have these services while you roam, but that isn't really true. Somehow the world got by before cellphones.

If you don't want to pay the price, then don't use the service. At that point, companies will change their pricing structure.

ilaifire says:

Just because people pay doesn't make it not a rip off. They pay because there is no other option. Your assumption that people can just go without it now because people went without it in the past is completely flawed. In the past no one had cell phones (or land lines, or even telegraphs if you go back far enough), and therefore not having access to it wasn't a disability. Nowadays everyone is expected to have a cell phone (and it is getting to the point when you are also expected to own a smart phone). Unless you are a gypsy or have a McJob your work probably expects to be able to reach you in an emergency.

BldyIdt says:

Maybe there are some people willing to pay 4€ per megabyte of downloaded data. I do not. Why should I pay that much when crossing the border just to get some data when the smartphone has became such an essential (personal and professional) tool. The European Commission is right. Besides telcos have nothing to fear about their benefits as data traffic should rise to 6.3 exabytes per month by 2015 (according to Cisco) so they'll still make a lot of money...

Husselang says:

I disagree. There are always some people willing to pay the price, business users mostly. That normal people don't use the service is not going to matter much.

I think it's good that this is regulated, because it benefits everyone. If they didn't charge these ridiculous amounts in the first place it would never be put in place.

SoonerGM says:

Some people are making good points. But let's look at it this way. Why not apply this same logic to cars? You know, I would love to have a brand new BMW M3... I mean, other people have them. Why not me? Well, I can't afford to buy it. On top of that, even if I did buy it, my motor vehicle insurance would increase greatly. I think that the price is a rip off! I mean the quality of the car is better than say, a Chevy Aveo, but does it really cost THAT much more to make it? The government needs to step in and regulate this!

This kind of logic can be applied to all consumer products. And it's a dangerous train of thought.

ilaifire says:

I agree with you partially. The government should do this with necessities to operate in the society. Utilities (gas, water power), healthcare and so on. A car is a necessity to be a functional member of society (in America) because everything in the last 60+ years was built with the idea that everyone has a car. A BMW or a RR on the other hand is not a necessity.
With every passing year internet is becoming closer and closer to being a necessity. Think about phone lines, two hundred years ago no one had a phone because the didn't exist, when phones first appeared most likely they were only in major government facilities (connect president to military bases, embassies...), then major business started getting phones. Today a phone number is mandatory information on a job application. While cell/internet might not be necessities yet we are on the verge of them becoming necessities to be a functional member of society.

Bledina says:

with all due respect, the argument of what the EU does is the same or on the way to be the same as the old USSR is ludicrous. Your argument about how it's a step towards deciding how much bread we can have is similar to the reasoning of some behind gay marriage in the US (the whole 'if gay marriage is allowed, next step will be marrying a goat or ice cream') and it's plain stupid (because nobody serious is advocating the right to marry ice cream or a fruit salad, except Pee-Wee Herman).

If anything, it reinforces our choices and our freedom to travel across Europe and be able to stay in touch with friends and family, and not be limited to what telcos impose us and being ripped off. This is made to protect the consumer, not to oppress him, and it's not like the EU is seizing all the telcos money and nationalize them (like the USSR, Venezuela or Cuba would do).
There is a sweet point somewhere between outright libertarianism and communism and in this case, I think this is it.

sukisluice says:

I would agree with this.

The European Commission (the ones actually behind this ruling) has an obligation to not only just protect consumers from artificially high prices but also as a whole to protect and facilitate the citizens of each member states ability to roam from country to country unhindered.

As part of this broad (sometimes vague) picture would be to ensure that there is absolute clarity in any charges consumers might incur whilst outside of their host nation - given that the mobile phone is now such an essential component of day to day life the EC sees it appropriate to create a level playing field which is both reasonably priced (even whilst roaming consumers are still being charged a significant amount more than when on their domestic network) and is understandable for consumers no matter where they are from or are going or have been.

strikethree says:

No country is a 100% capitalist. We have rules and regulations just like everywhere else. Without them, you are giving all control to players who look to gain short term profit for themselves and can be detrimental to society as a whole.

Also, you should take a better read at your history books. The USSR, at the time, had made a lot of advancements in technology. (the first man in space was a Russian)

I'm not a proponent of such economic beliefs, but I do believe that you have to look into these cases individually. You can't just say "free market is good, so we should just have that" (the same for socialist policies) because there are cases where it's not good at all. (2008 financial crisis where unregulated markets played a huge factor in the systemic domino effect)

In this case, it seems obvious that they want to stop these predatory practices since it's very easy rack up data now-a-days. I doubt they would make this move if they knew it would hinder these companies from offering roaming. (they do have the data)

3rdpig says:

The technology behind the early USSR space programs came from the minds of captured German scientists or captured German equipment (so did much of ours BTW). Their strategic bomber program for the post WWII period came directly from an American bomber that they captured, disassembled and copied.

That being said, the government has no business telling business what they can charge for a product or service, anymore than it should be in the business of handing out marriage licenses or tax breaks for married couples. As RR once said "Government is not the solution to our problems, government IS the problem". Look around you, never in history has that been more true.

ilaifire says:

No, the purpose of government is to tell businesses what they can charge, because no one else can. If the government doesn't tell businesses what they can charge, businesses will charge based on on maximum profit no matter what the consequences to society. Sure, luxury goods shouldn't be regulated, but things are necessities should be regulated and run by non-profit or government organisations (utilities, roads/highways, buses/trains inside and between cities, food, healthcare and telecom).

Husselang says:

Well, that's your belief anyway. Others disagree. Nothing in life is perfect, including government.

If you believe free market capitalism doesn't have problems you are truly blind to what is going on around us ;)

SoonerGM says:

most people don't have any idea what free market capitalism is. even the US isn't running anything close to a free market. so i don't see how you can quickly blame capitalism for "what is going on around us".

brendilon says:

Goverment is the problem? Not immoral bankers who set the economy spinning in the pursuit of profit (which they still rake in)? Not megacorporations who have shipped so many of our manufacturing jobs overseas to be performed by near-slave labor? Not billionaires who pay lower tax rates than the average Joe while our national infrastructure crumbles? Not ignorant, mindless consumers who are sated by 'reality' television and junk food while the wealthy steadily erode their rights and influence?

Somehow this is government's fault? Well, you're right, it IS the government's fault... for not stepping in and doing something about it sooner.

Ronald Reagan... the deity of Trickle Down Economics... which don't work. Reagan got the ball rolling for our current economic cesspool by slashing taxes and increasing spending. Public debt under Reagan boomed from 26.2% of GDP to 41%. A government's responsibility is to protect the PEOPLE, all the people, not just the wealthy and certainly not corporations which are not people.

ilaifire says:

Please tell me what innovation you are expecting from carriers? Better phones? Nope, that is all the manufacturers. Better speeds, 4G, 5G... networks? As I recall in most European countries the actual infrastructure is owned by the country and not private businesses.

erjennin says:

I think Europe has much bigger fish to fry than roaming charges. They can start by worrying about the meltdown that's happening. BALANCE YOUR BUDGETS! (Same goes for Obama)

JonJJon says:

Europe is collapsing, each country hates the other and no one wants the same laws imposed on each other (I mean seriously can you believe they wanted to put a single police force across the entire of Europe, a SINGLE CURRENCY doesn't even work and was never wanted by the people of each country) so all in all I don't care about this as when you go on holiday why would you want to look at email, and be tied down to the things you are getting away from. And if the argument of business comes up well that should be laid off onto the business to pay. Hi I'm the EU and we care about roaming charges not the fact that our currency will crash and riots will increase. Did you know that the UK's government is the only government to bend over and take all these laws and put them into effect, not even Germany and France abide by all the laws the EU churns out. Such a waste of money. Rant over lol.

mathiasjk says:

Know your facts: The Euro worked fine until the crisis (which weren't made by Europe), and international policeforce is not like the way you think, it works just like Interpol. It's made for higher cooperation between the countrys own policeforce.
- And EU do care for currency and economical problems (know the EU financial pact?), not every countrys economy is like Greece.

3rdpig says:

Europe and the EU members are as much to blame for the current world financial crisis as anyone else is. No one forced them to adopt socialist policies that they had no way to pay for other than borrowing money that they knew they'd never be able to pay back. And while every EU countries economy isn't like that of Greece, they're not alone in the problems. Spain, Portugal and Ireland are in similar predicaments. And by electing more of the same fools that got them into their current situation, they've proved that they're just as blind to the problem as you seem to be.

rarimes says:

Wow, when I read this article my first thought was to reply and point out the socialist tendencies being advocated by the "step in the right direction" comment. It would appear that has already been addressed along with gay marriage, currency, and the entire issue with the European Union. But just for clarification, am I correct in assuming I'm allowed to marry a goat while eating ice cream?

3rdpig says:

When a person's only answer to a debate is to throw up straw men like gay marriage, you know they're bereft of solutions.

And if I had my way, it would be between you and your church as to who you could marry, but you could also expect no preferential treatment from the government or any protection from ridicule from your peers.

And with that, I'm out of here. Have a nice day folks!

ccteo1 says:

Not sure how gay marriage came into it, but with due respect to Richard - corporations ARE people, the are employees, they are shareholders, they are middle class, they are also very rich people, they are in fact made up ENTIRELY of PEOPLE.

Also, even if you assume regulation is necessary (not the place to argue for or against here, as it IS a technology article), this should apply to rules, restrictions, general operating policies and not PRICING. You cannot tell me that the government can impose specific roaming prices any more than gasoline/petrol prices (if you didn't like the example of bread or fish and chips).

ilaifire says:

Why shouldn't roaming charges be regulated? The reason they exist is because the companies can get away with it, isn't it? Sure, you can claim it is because Company A needs to rent the bandwidth from Company B, so they will pass some of the price off to the consumer. But if you argue that you are looking at only half the picture, Company A may need to rent bandwidth from Company B to let User AA roam, but Company B also needs to rent bandwidth from Company A to let User BB roam.

Since I don't have access to the financial records of any of these businesses the following is just a guess based on what I stated above, a historical example that seems similar and common sense. All the telecom companies are paying each other to have roaming on the other networks and getting paid by the other networks to allow roaming. There are two ways of charging, they can either have a set deal ("We'll pay you $X/month to allow our customers to roam on your networks), or they can keep track of exact usage and bill based on that ("Your customers roamed on our network for Y minutes last month, so that will be $Z). Now if anyone doesn't know or remember how Enron's "profits" were made the over-simplified explanation is Enron and another company would sell each other the same service for the same price and record the profits of their sales for now and spread the cost of their purchase over time making it look like there was a net profit instead of having no actual change. This situation sound very similar to two telecoms selling roaming rights to each other, except instead of recording the "profits" they record the "loss" and tell their customers their customers that the customers need to pay for roaming because the company needs to rent bandwidth.

tl;dr Roaming charges only exist to get more money out of customers because roaming doesn't actually cost the carrier anything.

Husselang says:

Great news! Then I can finally realize my life long dream of marrying Coca Cola :D

By your logic corporations should also be considered buildings, or computers, or books, or whatever, since they usually contain many of these things. The whole "corporations are people" argument is designed with one purpose, to be used to give corporations more freedoms. Whenever the argument would give corporations less freedom, or in those cases were it is just plain absurd, it is not being used ;)

brendilon says:

A corporation is not a person, it is not a human being. It cannot be imprisoned when it does wrong. It is an element of legal fiction. Not real. Not human. Not a person.

And actually, the government CAN and HAS stepped in to control pricing in the past. Have you ever heard of price gouging? How about farm subsidies? How about issues of price collusion like the current ebook scandal in the US? Considering that telecomms have to get LICENSED by the regional governments in order to operate on the People's airwaves, I think the government has not only every right, but also the responsibility to protect consumers against exorbitant and opportunistic charges.

Driven says:

Does a corporation have a DOB? No... Does it have a SS#? No...well then, logic says it's not a d*mn person!!!

cfbauer says:

If businesses are allowed to charge "what they like" for data roaming, why wouldn't they charge $1,000/mb?

The answer is that businesses can't charge "what they like". They can only charge what a market will bear, and what people are willing to pay. If a business charges more than what people are willing to pay for a product, people will switch to alternatives and the business will lose customers.

Central economic planning has been tried many times, and failed spectacularly in every opportunity. It doesn't work.

brendilon says:

"failed spectacularly in every opportunity. It doesn't work."
The agricultural industry is calling, they want to laugh in your face.

cfbauer says:

Examples, please. People dying of starvation because there wasn't enough food in Communist Russia and North Korea doesn't seem all that smile inducing.