European Commission acts on mobile roaming costs

Last summer of expensive roaming?

Feature story of 4' - transmitted in edited format and international version.

Summary: During the summer, many Europeans go on holiday in another country. To keep a link with home, they bring their mobile phone. An idea that can proove very expensive : roaming costs can amount to several euros per minute. Nevertheless, the citizens of the European Union can consider themselves lucky : this is the last summer of super-expensive roaming : at the end of August, the Eurotarif will come into force, meaning lighter bills... The end of a struggle between the European commission and mobile phone operators...


0-21 Cushman & Wakefield : Adrien t'Kint comes to get the bills

Doing business all over Europe. Men and women working for Cushman and Wakefield, a big real estate company, have to move a lot to meet their clients' requirements. For the company, it means expensive phone bills. Adrien T'Kint scans them thoroughfully. His task: lowering the costs as much as possible.

21-43 Adrien t'Kint, IT director Cushman & Wakefield

Some people in our staff have very heavy bills when they travel in Europe. It can go up to 1000-1500 euros a month. In my situation, being Information technology director for Europe, I'm often away. The costs can be gigantic !

43-1'00 Cushman & Wakefield offices

Every 3 months, Adrien T'kint meets with the operator in charge of all the company's mobile phones. He tries to get the best deal. He's looking forward to the next meeting because he wants to know if the new prices imposed by the European commission will have consequences...

1'00-1'14 Adrien T'kint

We haven't talked about it yet, because it's too new. But I'm very interested, I hope it will bring us some benefits. But I have to say, we already put a lot of pressure on our operator.

1'14-1'28 European parliament : Merkel signing the legislation

Single customers don't have enough power to do that... They are the main target for the roaming law the german chancellor, who was then president of the EU signed at the end of June. Let's let Angela Merkel explain what this is all about.

1'28-1'38 Angela Merkel, german Chancellor.

It's unusual to have a European legislation that one can explain so easily. Whoever owns such a device will be able to phone within the EU for less money in the near future.

1'38-2'03 people making phone calls on the beach

Concretely here's what awaits the European users of mobile phone.

Their operators have to offer them the Eurotarif by the end of July, so that it enters into force at the end of August.

Too late for those travelling this summer, but it will work for the next holidays.

The operators won't be able to charge more than 49 cents plus VAT per minute when you make a call from a foreign country. A price that will sink even more in the following years.

2'03-2'15 Beuc's office

A big difference with the current price one has to pay in some countries.

The Beuc, the European office representing consumers is very happy with the change.

2'15-2'35 Muriel Danis, BEUC spokeswoman

In some countries, prices can reach 5 euros a minute for a call in another country What we found really weird was the fact that all the operators in one country would apply the same prices. A sign that these had nothing to do with the real costs. Moreover, the prices were often round, 5 euros for example, we found that really strange.

2'35-2'44 EU parliament

Consumers can say thank you to the European commission and to the European parliamant.They fought against the companies which didn't wan't to do anything.

2'44-3'01 Paul Rübig, MEP, rapporteur on roaming

I'm feeling very glad because it was a tough fight. In the early beginning, everybody was saying it was not possible to make such a law but now we see that if oyu work hard, we had a lot of night sessions when we debated what could be the best solution, now we got it, so I'm really happy.

3'01-3'26 Muriel Danis, BEUC spokeswoman

For a while, the European Commission told the operators to decrease their prices because margins could be up to 600% ! It was saying : you should do something about it, but they didn't budge. In the end, Brussels realized the only way to get better prices for the consumers was a European law.

3'26-3'44 airport, people going on holidays

Of course, for those living outside the Eu, the agreement doesn't apply. But, let's be optimistic, it puts a lot of pressure on the operators, even in the Balkans. There, many mobile phone companies are actually branches of West European companies... Maybe by next summer, the phenomenon will have spread...