I had my head in my hands last July when I realised the European Commission's decision to cut roaming charges still needed to be formally approved by both the European Parliament and EU governments. Well, fast forward almost 12 months and we are on the verge of a decision!
The big news is that the EU Parliament is expected to back the EC's findings and consequently we can expect calls from mobile phone when abroad to drop by as much as 75 per cent.
Under the (now finalised) proposals making a mobile call while roaming anywhere in the EU will be capped at 49 euro cents (33p) a minute while receiving a call will cost a maximum of 24 cents (16p) per minute. Interestingly, these prices will drop further to 46 cents (31p) and 22 cents (14.9p) respectively in 2008 with an additional reduction to 43 cents (29.2p) and 19 cents (12.9p) in 2009.
In real world terms, the Commission quotes the example of a four minute roaming mobile call to the UK while in Spain. Currently this will set users back a staggering 5.92 euros (£4.03) but come the changes this will drop to just 1.96 euros (£1.33).
When the green light comes (possibly later today) the reductions will come into force sometime between the end of July and early August. Sadly, however, the cost of text messaging – while a much lesser culprit – is not covered by the proposals.
In response there have already been rumblings from disgruntled mobile networks that they will need to claw back lost profit by increasing prices elsewhere – possibly even in domestic plans themselves, but in such a competitive market this would appear business suicide.
Ultimately: Vodafone, Orange, T-Mobile, Virgin, O2, 3.... nah nah na nah nah!