This Thursday, on the 10th of May, the European Parliament will vote on the renewal of the EU roaming regulation. It is expected to accept the compromise that was reached between the Parliament and the Council at the end of March.

What is to be expected from the new roaming rules? First of all, prices for roaming will go down further. For example, calling home will cost around 34 ct/min from July on and go down to around 23 ct/min until 2014. The cost of using the internet when abroad will come down from up to 12000€/GB now (no kidding!) to around 840€/GB this year and 240€/GB by 2014. In addition, consumer protection mechanisms will be improved: for example, you will receive a warning message when you travel outside of the EU and spend more than 50€ on internet roaming. This is all not too bad. We at Europeans for Fair Roaming fought for those things and are happy with the compromise. But nevertheless, prices will remain high. Just compare the price caps above with what you pay at home…

But the hopes are really pinned on two other measures of the new regulation: Operators will put in a position to offer lower prices (but whether they will do so remains to be seen). And from 2014 on, you will be able to switch to a different provider when going abroad if you feel your home provider takes too much money off you for roaming (that’s called “unbundling”). This way, existing operators will be able to access markets where they don’t have their own networks yet. In effect, we could see the emergence of low-cost providers for roaming services – or even the emergence of pan-European providers. Some even see players like Google and Apple as future pan-European virtual operators.

Whether this will really play out this way will only be seen in two years from now and will depend heavily on how user-friendly this unbundling will be. We might find ourselves back in the same discussion in three years if it doesn’t…

On Thursday, the European Parliament will vote on the new EU roaming regulation. Voting starts at 11:30 in the Brussels hemicycle. Europeans for Fair Roaming will be there to report “live” so make sure you follow us onwww.fairroaming.org and www.twitter.com/fairroaming.


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