Mobile Phones Updated:
The costs of 'mobile roaming' in the EU could well be cut as part of an effort to drive down costs for using mobile phones on the continent.
The European Commission aims to close the gap between using your phone at home and abroad over the next four years.
As part of the plan, it has proposed cuts to the cost attached to roaming, which are made when making or taking a call, texts are sent or when users download data – something that has increased in recent years with the explosion of smart phones.
The limits proposed would mean that operators could charge no more than 45p per megabyte of data downloaded from July 2014.
A megabyte's worth of data is the equivalent of 100 emails without attachments, less than an hour of internet surfing time, one minute of downloading music, or just a few seconds of streaming video.
A cap of £45 worth of data will remain in place to safeguard people from shock bills when they return home, although this can be changed at the customer's request.
The proposals will also see holiday makers being allowed to switch to an operator that is based overseas, while keeping their own number.
Under the current system, the only way people can do this is by purchasing a local SIM card, but this means that their number is different for the duration of their trip.
It is hoped that the new rules will increase competition in the market, meaning that virtual operators without their own networks will shake up the roaming sector.
These proposals have been added to new rules which will see the costs of making a call from the EU fall to 22p per minute by July 2014, with receiving a call dropping to around 8.5p per minute – the same price charged for sending a text.
The new rules would apply until June 2016, when the commission hopes that a more competitive market will have reduced the costs associated with using mobiles abroad to a more acceptable level.
Figures show that the cost of calling when abroad has fallen by 6% in each year since action was first taken in 2007.
The UK 's four major operators at the time – Vodafone, O2, T-Mobile and Orange – tried to challenge the decision but ultimately lost their appeal last year.
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