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EU to tackle huge bills for data downloads on smartphones abroad

July 14, 2011 6:10 PM

Euro MP Liz Lynne has welcomed the latest move by the European Commission to stop the eye watering charges on many mobile phones for downloading a video clip or email attachment while abroad.

Under a review ordered this month, not only must the cost of calls and texts come down further, but for the first time price caps will be set on data costs for internet and email on smartphones.

Using data while abroad costs an average of £1.80 per MB today, but it will fall to no more than about 80p (€.90) per MB from July 2012 and 45p (€.50) by 2014, a quarter of today's price.

Liz Lynne has lobbied the Commission after a number of complaints from constituents with bills of hundreds of pounds for using smartphones or mobile internet dongles while abroad.

One case two years ago saw a German man faced with a bill of €46,000 for downloading a TV film onto his phone while he was over the border in France. Since then a price cap for a single download has come in, but many consumers are still face enormous unexpected bills.

Liz Lynne MEP said: "This announcement is long overdue, it is clear that phone operators have been getting away with exorbitant charges and bill shocks. Its time for the EU to get tough.

"There is no reason why downloading a music track or watching a news bulletin on your phone should cost pennies in the UK but many pounds in France or Belgium.

"Ten million people now have smartphones in Britain. Price controls should always be a last resort but will benefit consumers while boosting a proper competitive market in the longer term.

"I urge people with smartphones to take care and check their service plans before going abroad. It will take some time for this price cap plan to take effect."

The proposal from the European Commission will now require approval by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers in a process likely to conclude next spring.

ENDS

Notes to Editors For more information, please see:

http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=MEMO/11/485&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

Until full competition sets in to drive retail prices down, the Commission proposes to introduce a new retail price cap for mobile data services and to progressively lower current price caps on voice and text (SMS) services as follows:

Current and proposed retail price caps, in € (excluding VAT)

Current

1 July 2012

1 July 2013

1 July 2014

Data (per MB)

None

90 cents

70 cents

50 cents

Voice-calls made (per minute)

35 cents

32 cents

28 cents

24 cents

Voice-calls received (per minute)

11 cents

11 cents

10 cents

10 cents

SMS (per SMS)

11 cents

10 cents

10 cents

10 cents