THE COST of using a mobile phone abroad will be significantly cheaper from this summer after the European Union yesterday announced it would cap roaming charges.
Effective from 1 July, subject to approval, the cost of downloading one megabyte worth of data will be no more than 59p from this summer and is set to drop to 17p in two years.
This marks the first time that data roaming costs are capped.
Downloading an mp3 music track takes about four megabytes of data.
Traditional phone services will also face tighter cost regulation, with the price of a one-minute call to be capped at 24p, falling to 16p by 2014. Sending a text will cost no more than 7.5p from this summer and five pence in two years – almost half the current ceiling of nine pence.
Three, which has a ten per cent market share in the UK, welcomed the price ceiling after writing an open letter to the UK government last month calling for regulated roaming charges.
A Three spokesman said the cheaper costs will encourage more consumers to use their phones abroad and could generate higher income for the network operators.
But Everything Everywhere was “disappointed” with the EU’s decision. It said competition was a more effective way to drive down prices, citing that data roaming costs have fallen 78 per cent over the last three years without regulation. Vodafone held a similar pro-competition line.
The EU aims to bring roaming tariffs into line with domestic prices by 2015.
Shares in Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom and Telefonica – the parent bodies of T-Mobile, Orange and O2 respectively – all dropped one per cent.