Roaming charges drop as bill cap covers trips outside EU

The European Parliament has passed new regulations to limit phone and data roaming charges in the EU and the rest of the world.

The cost of checking Facebook when you're on your holidays is about to fall faster than a tourist looking the wrong way when they cross the road. The European Parliament has passed new regulations to limit phone and data roaming charges in the EU and the rest of the world.

It's the first time caps will be imposed on data roaming, so you won't be hit by a massive bill as soon as you get home and dump your suitcase just because you checked your email a few times. And you won't get a massive shock just because you used Google Maps when you couldn't find the hotel after that second bottle of el vino collapso.

On 1 July the cost of data will be capped at 56p per megabyte -- just in time for the summer hols to kick off in earnest and for European tourists to land in Britain for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Even better, prices will fall over the next two years, to 36p next year and 16p in 2014. And in two years you'll be able to choose a roaming deal from a different operator instead of being stuck with the network you use at home.

Call charges will also drop, to 25p from 28p this year, and to 19p over the next couple of years.

Holidaymakers and business travellers have had a raw deal for too long, with phone networks making out like bandits as they charge what they like. Our business-minded buddies at ZDNet revealed last year that the actual cost of providing data-roaming services is between 1p and 3p per megabyte -- meaning some networks have hit us with mark-ups as high as 80,000 per cent. That's more than double the mark-up on cocaine. So we hear. Ahem.

As welcome as this news is, the capped prices only apply to European citizens travelling within the EU. Journeying elsewhere for work or pleasure can still lead to hefty charges -- but the £40 cap on your total bill that's currently in place when you're travelling in the EU has also been extended to trips to the rest of the world.

Is it about time someone sorted out roaming? Have you ever been hit with a shocking bill when you got back from your holibobs? Roam on down to the comments or take a trip to our Facebook page to let us know.

About the author

Rich Trenholm is a senior editor at CNET where he covers everything from phones to bionic implants. Based in London since 2007, he has travelled the world seeking out the latest and best consumer technology for your enjoyment.


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