As of 30 August 2008, tariffs for customers making mobile calls abroad in the EU ("roaming") will continue to fall. The price ceilings for retail prices ("Eurotariff") provided for in the regulation will be reduced from this date by three cents to 46 cents for outgoing calls and by two cents to 22 cents per minute for incoming calls (both plus VAT). Mobile phone providers are obliged to do this under the EU Roaming Regulation and must inform their customers of the updated charges.
The maximum wholesale charge - the charge that providers charge each other - may only be 28 cents per minute on average from this date.
A further reduction in both retail and wholesale charges of up to three cents per minute will take place on 30 August 2009.
In addition to these price caps, the regulation provides for a number of transparency obligations for providers vis-à-vis their customers. In particular, all customers will receive information free of charge via SMS about the maximum charges for mobile phone calls in the respective country when crossing the border. Furthermore, they have the possibility to obtain additional information about the international charges for SMS, MMS and other data communication services from their provider via a free hotline.
The Federal Network Agency monitors the compliance of companies in Germany with the Roaming Regulation. "It is pleasing to see that mobile providers have for the most part implemented the provisions of the regulation in a timely and consumer-friendly manner," said Matthias Kurth, President of the Federal Network Agency. "The Eurotariff has been well accepted by consumers. The Federal Network Agency was able to eliminate isolated ambiguities in the interpretation of the provisions in dialogue with the network operators."
In case of enquiries and complaints, customers can first contact their provider and subsequently the consumer service of the Federal Network Agency:
Federal Network Agency
PO Box 8001
Telephone: 030 22480-500
The regulation is initially valid until summer 2010. The EU Commission is currently reviewing whether the goals set have been achieved. It is also examining whether, in view of market developments and in the interest of competition and consumer protection, there is a need to extend the period of validity beyond this date. It may also make recommendations to amend the regulation to include additional services. In this context, an extension to SMS and data communication services is proposed.
The European Regulators Group (ERG) has published the position of the European regulatory authorities within the framework of a consultation carried out by the Commission. It sees room for further price reductions for data communication services despite stronger competitive pressure than exists for mobile voice services. "Mobile operators should further reduce their tariffs for data communication services so that fee regulation proves unnecessary," Kurth appealed to the German companies.
Source: Press release of the Federal Network Agency of 04.08.2008, Federal Network Agency for Electricity, Gas, Telecommunications, Post and Railway Press Office, Tulpenfeld 4,53113 Bonn, http://www.bundesnetzagentur.de/enid/2.html
Goldberg Attorneys at Law, Wuppertal-Solingen 2008
Attorney at Law Michael Ullrich, LL.M.(Information Law)