Telecommunications in the European Union

Telecommunications in the European Union

Some of the telecommunications are regulated by the European Union.

General regulation

* Directive 2002/20/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 2002-03-07 on the authorisation of electronic communications (Authorisation Directive). []
* Directive 2002/21/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 March 2002 on a common regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services (Framework Directive). [ [!celexapi!prod!CELEXnumdoc&lg=EN&numdoc=32002L0021&model=guichett guichett - 32002L0021 ] ]
* Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council 2000/31/EC of 2000-06-08 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market (Directive on electronic commerce). []

Regulation on voice roaming charges

EU regulation
title=Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on roaming on public mobile telephone networks within the Community and amending Directive 2002/21/EC
number=(EC) No 717/2007
madeby=European Commission
madeunder= Art. 95 TEC
OJref= L171 Vol. 50 2007-06-29, pp. 32-40
made= 2007-06-27
commenced= 2007-06-30
CommProp= 2006-07-12
ParlOpin=Approved [ [ European Commission - President José Manuel Barroso ] ]
amends=Directive 2002/21/EC
The Regulation (EC) No 717/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 June 2007 on roaming on public mobile telephone networks within the Community and amending Directive 2002/21/EC is a regulation by the European Commission, primarily backed by Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media, which regulates the charges of mobile phone use when abroad in the EU. The regulation caps the rates operators can charge each other while roaming in the EU and also limits the tariffs an operator can charge from customers.

The European Commission had repeatedly urged mobile operators to lower the charges for using mobile phones abroad. But they remained on average four times more expensive than domestic mobile phone calls. To highlight the continuing problem, the Commission launched a consumer website on roaming tariffs in October 2005. It exposed roaming prices of up to €12 euros for a 4-minute call. As even this did not change the pricing behaviour of mobile operators, the Commission proposed to intervene by regulating. The proposal for a regulation to lower international roaming charges within the EU was published by the Commission July, 2006.

How does it work in practice

The regulation entered into force on 30 June 2007. From this date on, mobile phone operators within the European Union had one month (till 31 July 2007) to inform you about the new tariffs (called "Eurotariff") and provide an offer for switching to the new tariff. If you reacted to this offer, the mobile phone operator has to switch you to the new tariff within one month maximum. If you don't react, the new tariff automatically applies on 30 September 2007, unless you have a special roaming package.

The Eurotariff

The maximum retail roaming tariffs (called "Eurotariff") set by the regulation are described in the table below. The ceilings or Eurotariffs will gradually decrease over the next three years. Operators will be able to compete below this level. The caps below are specified in Eurocents on a per minute basis and without VAT (as in the regulation):

Maximum cost for calls within EU+EEA (also see the Other for EEA)in eurocent:

A Eurotariff will be available in all 27 Member States of the European Union. It applies only to voice calls within the EU – no matter if you are a pre-paid or post-paid customer. It does not apply to other mobile phone services, such as SMS, MMS or data transfer.

The regulation caps roaming prices for voice services only but it also requires national regulators to monitor developments in the prices of roamed voice, SMS and data services closely. The Commission calls on mobile operators to demonstrate their willingness to voluntarily reduce the very high roaming charges for SMS and data roaming.

Switching to a Eurotariff is free of charge with no effect on your existing mobile phone contract.

Thanks to the new EU law, you also know exactly what you pay when you use your mobile abroad. You receive an SMS when crossing the border to another EU Member State informing you of the price for making and receiving calls. This message will be free. You will also be able to seek more detailed prices by SMS or over the phone.

Under new rules as of July 1st 2009, consumers would also benefit from per-second billing after 30 seconds for calls made, and per-second billing throughout for calls received to ensure that consumers do not face any ‘hidden costs’ when they are roaming. This is expected to increase consumers savings by over 20%.


The regulation is meant to expire in three years from 2007 (in Summe 2010). The Commission, together with the National Regulatory Authorities will monitor the development of the prices over the next 18 months. If normal market conditions have been established in the market for roaming calls, the regulation will expire after three years. However, the Commission can also propose to continue to regulate the roaming market, if normal market conditions are not working yet. Under the lastest EU proposal on 23 September 2008, this regulation would be extended for three more years as per the table above.

Regulation on SMS roaming charges

SMS and data deadline

A regulation on SMS and Data is currently being studied by the EU Commission. Commissioner Reding gave operators until July 1, 2008 to lower SMS and data roaming charges. The Commission then sent letters to the CEOs of all European mobile operators inquiring about their SMS and data prices. The assessment showed that prices are still too high.

Based on this assessment and the public consultation held in early autumn and slash prices by 2/3 to send text messages while abroad. The European regulators Group - ERG - has suggested a level between 11 and 15 eurocents. The proposed cap will likely be at that level.

The Commission will also propose measures to increase transparency in roaming charges and put an end to 'bill shocks' experienced by roaming customers using the internet. There will be probably also a need to regulate the wholesale tariffs for data services.

The European Commission plans to present legislation early autumn 2008, in order to have the new measures for SMS and data enter into force by summer 2009.

On 27 November 2008 will be held voting for the rule that will obligate all the operators in the EU to keep the maximum price of SMS send within EU borders on the level of 0.11 eurocent. []

This would also include a wholesale maximum rate of 0.04 eurocent.

Regulation on data charges

Data and Internet services are not regulated for the moment by the European Union at the retail level. A wholesale price cap may be applicable as of July, 1st 2009 for 1 EUR/MB.Customers travelling to another Member State would also receive an automated message of the charges that apply for data roaming services.

On 1 July 2010, operators must provide customers with the opportunity to determine in advance how much they want to spend before the service is "cut-off".


EEA relevance

The regulation specifies that this matter has relevance for the European Economic Area (EEA). This means that the tariffs caps apply to EEA member states (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) as of 1 January 2008.

Exchange rates

For services paid for in currencies other than the euro, the reference rates posted by the ECB on the 29 June 2007 are used:

Public consultation

The Commission must report back to the European Parliament and the Council before the end of 2008 on the need to review existing roaming rules. To prepare this report, the Commission consulted the public up to July 2, 2008.

The Commission asked for comments on the review of the roaming rules and their possible extension to SMS and data roaming services. 39 questions were raised about the general functioning of the roaming regulation as well as specific issues concerning:

* Inadvertent roaming or involuntary roaming, when consumers use their mobile phone close to the border of a neighbouring country and are connected to a foreign network.
* The effect of the rules on smaller operators and on domestic prices: have the new rules led to an increase in domestic prices?
* The issue of actual vs. billed call duration: has there been any change from per second to per minute billing as a result of the new rules?
* The need to extend the duration of the rules.
* The need for similar rules concerning data and SMS roaming services at wholesale and/or retail levels in light of current retail prices and market developments.

See also

* Communications Committee
* Mobile phone
* Roaming

External links

* [ Telecoms in the EU. European Commission] .
* [ Reference Documents]
* [ EU-website about the roaming charges regulation]
* [ Commissioner Reding's Comments to the Press on Data Roaming (Barcelona, 11 February 2008)]
* [ ERG Report of 23rd of June 2008]
* [ EU Public consultation May 2008]
* [ New Rules proposed by the Commission on 23 September 2008]


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