European Union caps mobile data roaming charges

I love the stars and stripes but sometimes I wish our wireless industry had the sanity of the mobile operators in the European Union. Today, for instance, new rules implemented by the EU place a cap on mobile data roaming charges ensuring customers won’t be hit with a huge bill without warning.

The new rules mean European customers will have until July 1 to set a monthly roaming limit and telecoms will have to send the user a notification when they hit the 80% mark. Those who don’t set a cap will have a 50 Euro allotment default and the telecoms won’t be able to charge more than 1 EUR/MB for downloading. Additionally, when the customer hits their cap, the service will be shut off. I’m sure consumers will be able to contact the carrier to exceed that cap if they really need to.

The goal is to reduce unexpected bills when travelling, as the EU said a German customer was charged 46,000 Euros for watching TV online while roaming in France and a British student was charged 9,000 Euros for a month of mobile data usage while studying abroad. The EU is also hoping this move will eventually lower the overall price of mobile broadband.

“Protection against data roaming bill shocks is a useful step towards building customers’ confidence to use mobile networks to surf the Internet when travelling around Europe,” said Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes in a prepared statement. “Such confidence is essential if people and businesses are to use the Internet to its full potential.”

This is the latest move by the European Commission to make its mobile industry more consumer-friendly, as EU data said there has been a 35% drop in roaming charges since the commission put pressure on the telecoms. Good news for Europeans, I suppose, and I’ll just continue to get upset every time I have to pay for incoming texts.

[Via The Associated Press, photo via digital lifestyles]

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