European GSM Roaming
The consumer has been championed by the European law makers in the form of a 2007 legislation package which restricted the amount mobile phone operators could charge for roaming voice calls. This was followed up in 2009 with a set of amendments further reducing the upper limit for voice calls and limiting the cost of SMS messages, roaming data, and making recommendations to avoid ‘Bill Shock’. As a result the following measures became law in 2009:
- Euro SMS tariff – Mobile phone operators will not be able to charge more than 11c for an SMS message anywhere in the EU.
- Improved transparency – Customers travelling to another member state should receive an automated message telling them the charges that apply for data roaming services. On 1 March 2010, operators must provide customers with the opportunity to determine in advance how much they want to spend before the service is cut off. One of these options (the default financial limit) shall not exceed EUR50.00.
- Roaming Data – The wholesale price of data roaming will be capped at EUR1.00 per MB from 1 July 2009, falling to EUR0.80 from July 2010 and EUR0.50 from July 2011.
These measures in themselves will be welcomed by every roaming user. Service providers such as e3 will benefit too. The inexorable demand for more data will carry on regardless and it will be a lot easier to collect a lot of small invoices than it would to collect a few big ones. But we are not resting there. Item 2 above will be open to interpretation, may be linked to operator produced software which is not installed on yacht communications systems, and there will still be the potential for large invoices.