CONSERVATIVE North-West Euro-MP Sajjad Karim has welcomed European Union proposals that aim to put an end to extortionate mobile phone bills incurred while travelling abroad.
This would put to an end the “bill shock” that affects many travellers when returning from holiday.
The proposals, announced by the European Commission, would tackle the root cause of high-roaming prices by bringing real competition to mobile communications across Europe. This will drive down prices for voice and data services to people travelling abroad on either leisure or business.
The measures would give mobile operators the right to use other companies’ networks across the EU at regulated wholesale prices, meaning that operators with no network coverage in a certain country could still market cheaper roaming calls to their home subscribers.
Customers would be able to sign up for a second provider for cheaper roaming services, while keeping the same number.
As these major changes cannot be made until 2014, consumers will be helped in the meantime. There will be lower retail price caps for calls and texts - to help create fair pricing until the effect of competition kicks in.
By July, 2014, consumers should pay no more than 22p per minute to make a call and 9p per minute to receive. Text message costs would be frozen 9p and data downloads at 45p per megabyte.
Speaking on the proposals from the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Mr Karim said: “Overcharging by mobile operators has been a major problem that I have fought against for many years, with holiday-makers returning from their travels only to be shocked by extortionate mobile phone bills.
“I fully welcome these proposals that tackle the root cause of these high roaming prices - the lack of competition - by opening up the market to more operators and by giving consumers more choice. These measures would immediately bring down prices for data roaming where operators currently enjoy outrageous profit margins.
“The travelling public has for too long been seen as an easy target for a rip-off. These proposals will end this for once and for all.”