updated 02:28 pm EDT, Thu May 10, 2012
New regulations limit how much EU providers can charge
The European Parliament has introduced regulations to cap the amount mobile service providers can charge for calls and data when users are operating their devices outside of their home country. According to the BBC, the caps were passed by a sizable majority and are intended to prevent "bill shock" at the charges incurred by users making calls and using data applications abroad.
Beginning in July, mobile data usage in Europe will be capped at a cost of 70 cents per megabyte. Consumers will also have the option of choosing a different mobile operator from their home provider when traveling abroad. This split-network option goes into effect in 2014, and regulators hope that the change will effect greater competition in mobile service provision.
The new regulations could amount to considerable savings for Europeans who travel between countries. For businessmen, the price caps could amount to 1,000 euros per year in savings.
The European Union has been aggressive in implementing consumer protections with regard to mobile service. Five years ago, the EU proposed laws granting its member states the right to break up telecom firms in order to foster greater competition; and last year saw EU ministers investigating whether wireless providers were unfairly limiting bandwidth for Skype and similar apps. Earlier this year, it was rumored that the European Commission was in the early stages of investigating the five largest carriers on the continent for anticompetitive collusion.