A new series of data roaming caps will soon be introduced in Europe. Not only that, we could see more competition as mobile operators are permitted to offer competing roaming deals on your current Sim.
From July 2012, thanks to the European Commission, mobile phone companies will only be able to charge a maximum of £0.80 per megabyte of data downloaded. It’s good news, but it’s not the most exciting statement, I’m sure you’ll agree. And it’s certainly one I’m tired of hearing.
But hidden among the new caps is a proposal that might finally bring an end to the current process of the Commission dragging the mobile operators kicking and screaming like four-year-old children to price equality throughout Europe.
New proposal could stop Euro nannying
It seems the Commission is as tired of introducing cap after cap as we are of hearing about them. It has now proposed a new way of cutting into the operators’ ‘outrageous profit margins’.
Its new plan will rely on competition to drive down prices and will let consumers sign up to a separate operator for their roaming calls while keeping the same number and even the same Sim card.
‘Virtual’ networks – such as Tesco Mobile, which runs on the O2 network – will also be free to buy access to foreign networks at regulated wholesale prices. The Commission hopes this will allow networks to offer new deals that should bring down prices for all of us.
Will the mobile networks play ball?
How this will work in practice isn’t completely clear yet – the prospect of having to deal with a bill from each operator and jump through a series of administrative hoops has me slightly concerned – but in principle it’s a good idea.
Then again there was nothing to stop the operators get together and offer competitive pricing before this – except for a desire to preserve their margins. Will these new rules actually work in changing the mobile market for the better?
I hope so, but if it relies on the mobile operators growing up and offering better deals, I’m not going to hold my breath.