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European Voice and SMS Roaming Costs Have Fallen by 50% Since 2007

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Note -- this news article is more than a year old.

A new report from Tariff Consultancy (TCL) says that voice and SMS roaming rates in Europe have halved between 2007 to 2010 due to an EU roaming price cap but with very few prices applied below the cap. EU mobile roaming data rates are on average 5.4 euro, 5 times the 1 Euro per MB wholesale rate though individual operator data roaming rates vary from below the wholesale cap to more than 10 times the cap rate.

"A main constraint on roaming usage is the lack of awareness by users," comments Margrit Sessions, MD of TCL; "In our survey over the 3-year period since 2007, it is striking how little unregulated roaming services pricing has declined," says Sessions. "The user can end up paying ten times more for communication when outside the EU".

TCL has identified some 90% of European mobile operators have chosen to position their EU voice roaming tariff close to the cap, which is acting as the de facto price standard.

A characteristic of the introduction of the EU roaming cap has been the change in roaming pricing to other regions outside of the European Union. Operators have sought to offset the revenue limiting effects of the EU roaming cap by rebalancing roaming tariffs outside the EU. Some operators have altered the geographical zones which has resulted in higher prices for roamers in countries in particular countries such as Norway, Switzerland, the USA and Asia Pacific that were before in the EU zone.

Increasingly though mobile operators push a series of separate "opt in" roaming bundles for consumers that bypass the EU roaming cap which offer roaming discounts in return for a weekly or monthly fee to selected holiday destinations but can attract higher rates to EU countries than the EC rate cap.

The net effect of the rebalancing of mobile roaming tariffs outside of the EU has been to make roaming services to the US or other countries relatively expensive by comparison with the EU.

For example:

- The price of a roaming voice call from the EU zone to the next geographical tariff zone has an average mark up of 200%

- The price of SMS roaming outside the EU zone to the next geographical zone has an average mark up of 160%.

- The price of Mobile Data roaming outside the EU zone to the next geographical zone has an average mark up of 270%.

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Tags: european commission  eu  viviane reding  roaming  europe  usa