updated 07:50 am EST, Fri December 3, 2010
EU says it may limit European data roaming
The EU is expanding its limits on data roaming to where they might go away entirely, Commissioner Neelie Kroes said on Friday. While it put caps on data on the carriers themselves, the official noted that carriers weren't moving the lower charges on to customers. EU member of Parliament Paul Rübig suggested to the New York Times that the cap would either be applied to retail or that the wholesale cap would increase so much that prices might have to come down.
"We should have used gigabyte instead of megabyte in the original legislation," he explained.
More public-facing caps on voice and text messaging already exist, but these also hadn't had as much effect as the EU had liked. The current caps are due to expire in 2012 without a new law, which Commissioner Kroes hinted she would like to implement if lighter regulation and the private market didn't work. Her ideal was to at least eliminate voice roaming charges in EU countries by 2015, which may already happen through a possible voluntary deal between Portugal and neighboring Spain.
Data roaming has been the frequent subject of complaints in Europe, since the density of the continent often leads to crossing borders and potentially expensive data use even for short trips. Many European carriers, like Orange, Telefonica, T-Mobile and Vodafone, often have a presence in multiple countries and theoretically don't need to charge extra from carriers on their own network. Carriers have usually objected to price caps but have also had difficulty justifying the costs.