Mobile firms told to slash roaming costs
IRISH mobile companies have been ordered by the EU to slash their roaming charges by up to 80pc this summer.
As a result the cost of surfing the net overseas will be a fraction of current rates.
Irish consumers will benefit hugely from the Europe-wide move, as they're now charged up to €5 for each megabyte of data used, whereas the new EU limit will be just 70c, or 85c after VAT.
The new lower charges come into force from July 1, and will be followed by prices plummeting further to €0.45 for each MB in summer 2013 and just €0.20 from July 2014.
New lower rates will also apply to calls and texts overseas and to the use of iPads and other computers in the price-slashing move passed by the European Parliament yesterday.
Calls will be capped at €0.29 a minute from July 1, down from the current maximum of €0.35, while the cost of sending a text message while abroad will fall from 11c to 9c.
The lower roaming rates apply to phone use within the EU, so consumers can still be hit by higher charges if they travel further afield.
Currently O2 has the highest data roaming rates at a massive €5.04 per MB of data in the EU for the first four MBs used.
That means you can spend €20 downloading a song -- but this coast will be slashed to one-fifth when the price caps come in.
Meanwhile, 3 roaming charges are not far behind at €4 a MB in most European countries, so its rates also need to fall.
Prices at Meteor, eMobile and Vodafone are lower but will also have to come down to comply with the new pricing regime.
Labour MEP Phil Prendergast said the cheaper prices would mean big savings for consumers but roaming charges would ultimately have to be abolished.
"Roaming no longer makes any economic sense. Consumers are paying up to four times the wholesale market prices charged by mobile operators to other mobile operators," she said.