The European Commission has confirmed its new cuts in mobile roaming rates, which will take effect starting 1 July 2014. The cost of making a call when traveling in the EU drops 21 percent to €0.19 (US $0.26) per minute; the cost of receiving a call falls by 28.5 percent to €0.05 (US $0.06) per minute; SMS costs decrease 25 percent to €0.06 (US $0.08) per text and data services fall by 55.5 percent to €0.20 (US $0.27) per MB. (All prices exclude VAT.) The rates are now down 80 to 90 percent from when the EU first started regulating prices in 2007. Proposed legislation would see roaming surcharges eliminated entirely beginning next year; operators would be required to charge the same prices as they do in their home markets.
The size of these cuts shows that the EU is serious about dialing down roaming within its borders. The rate reduction for data use, at 55.5 percent, is particularly significant, not only for the generosity of the amount but because of the increasing importance of data services for those traveling abroad. The falling rates may have the effect of increasing subscribers’ use of roaming services and thereby offset mobile operators’ losses to some extent. However, the writing on the wall could not be clearer: Now is the time for MNOs to find replacements for a revenue stream that will almost certainly run dry in the near future.