The European Commission has announced that a new maximum price will be implemented for all cross-border calls and SMS messages within the EU.
Who is affected by the price cap?
The price control will apply to telecom operators in all 28 EU countries as of the 15th of May and is also expected to come into effect in Iceland, Norway, and Lichtenstein soon after.
The new regulation will cap international EU calls at a maximum of 19 cents per minute excluding VAT and EU SMS texts at 6 cents per minute excluding VAT. As it stands the cap will apply to personal users only and not to businesses.
How much will consumers save?
The EU says that the change hopes to combat high discrepancies between domestic and international EU calls. Currently, a standard international call within the EU costs 3.6 times more than the standard domestic one. Some outlier cases were found in which an international EU call cost ten times higher than the standard domestic one.
Consumers will end up paying a little more than the headline figures because VAT ranges from 17% to 27% meaning some calls can still cost more than 24p a minute.
The EU says someone calling Belgium from Italy for two hours on a fixed line phone will save €78. The average price reduction for a person in Belgium will be 332% per phone minute and 542% per SMS says the BEUC.
Didn't the EU already cut the cost of international calls?
In mid-2017 EU rules ended the use of roaming charges across the bloc. Roaming charges were fees applied to mobile phone users calling from outside their home countries. Since the reform, using a mobile phone in any EU country is the same as using it at home.