Senator Catherine Noone today called on the European Commission to work to ensure that recently-discovered loopholes in their roaming legislation are closed. The regulations which came into effect on July 1st ensure that tourists, consumers and those travelling on business don’t have to pay over the top roaming fees. One of the most welcome aspects of this was the capping of data at 20 cents per megabyte. However, a loophole has now emerged whereby people are paying up to €5 per megabyte – or 25 times the amount.
Speaking on this, Senator Noone said: “In recent months we have seen the price of roaming across Europe fall as a consequence of work being done by the EU Commission. Just two weeks ago, in fact, we saw a cap being put on data roaming across Europe, which would see people working or browsing the web abroad be capped at paying 20 cents per megabyte. In my opinion, this is still too much, but it’s serious progress from a year ago where people were paying up to 80 cents per megabyte”.
Senator Noone continued: “However, while the telecoms industry say that they are keen to embrace this pro-consumer, pro-business, pro-tourism move, in reality they seem willing to exploit any loophole necessary in order to keep some incredibly inflated roaming prices in place. For instance, it has come to my attention that people who “tether”, e.g. people who use their mobile phone to allow their iPad to browse the internet or send emails, are still being charged up to €5 per megabyte as a consequence of a loophole. It’s still the very same data, at the very same cost to the telecoms company, only it’s configured in a slightly different way and, as such, seems to constitute a loophole”.
Senator Noone concluded: “This has allowed telecoms companies to get away with charging more than 25 times the amount of the current pricing cap and, in truth, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were further loopholes which have yet to be exposed. This flies in the face of capping the price of mobile phone roaming, as the point of the exercise is to ensure that people don’t feel afraid to use their phones when abroad for fear of getting a gigantic bill at the end of it all – yet, by continuing to try and gouge money in any way possible, the phone companies are ensuring that that fear remains. This is a shame, and I hope that the EU Commission continue to push ahead in quashing roaming fees and ensuring a pro-consumer, pro-business move is fully implemented”.