This means a 60% reduction of consumer costs, coming too late for holiday roamings, but nevertheless welcome. The more so, while costs will continue to be capped at lower levels during the coming years.
SMS- and GPRS (internet) roaming have still to be tackled. If providers do not limit themselves, measures have been announced this week in Brussels, to discipline them.
The application of the caps comes also 3 months too late. It could have been applied on July 1st. That was the intention of the Commission and the European Parliament. Somehow, the providers managed to delay it during the three summer months, thus profiting from the consumers needs to call home during holidays.
I myself, being a customer of the Belgian Proximus provider (an affiliate of the giant British Vodafone networks), received today an August bill of € 88.89 (21% Belgian VAT included). International and roaming calls are billed in it for about 0.75 € p/Minute (VAT not included). This in spite of the fact, that I am a member of Vodafone Passport, that allows lower tariffs if I call to or from Vodafone-affiliated networks in Europe. Otherwise, I would have had to pay still more.
During our holidays (the August part), I called from Belgium to France, Spain and the UK; from France to Belgium and the UK; from Spain to Belgium, and the UK. And I received several calls from Holland, Belgium, the UK and Spain in different countries. Always via Vodafone Networks, where the Vodafone Passport is applicable.This petty manoeuver, during three months, and multiplied by all other consumers' bills (except for corporations, who enjoy preferential tariffs since long), may have paid for the consultants and lobbyists Vodafone hired in 2005-2007, to counter the EU Commission's proposals with literally every possible counter-argumentation. The venerable Financial Times duly reported their ramblings, and was echoed by other media.
Total minutes outgoing European intl calls: 73.43 Minutes
Total Proximus/Vodafone price (without VAT): € 43,1682
Also a middle price p/Minute of: 0,5878, which is 9,878 cts more per minute than it should have been.
Calls received abroad: 2,04 Minutes at 0,8182 € = 0,4011 €.
That is 16,01 cts more p/Minute than should have been billed.
All in all, Proximus/Vodafone stole from me in a petty way (for they could easily have applied the new tariffs by July), in one month:
73.43 x 9.878 + 2.04 x 9.878 = 725,34154 + 20,15112 cts = 745,49266 cts, or 7.45 €, which means: € 9.02 VAT included, or: somewhat more than 10% of my entire bill! Multiply by three months.
We need the EU to protect consumers
All this shows, how necessary (and not at all impossible) it is, to regulate the "free" market with overall European regulations, as long as oligopolists try to profit from the remainders of compartimentalisation by country. (In this case: the fact that licences are being issued by national governments, who receive also the fees).
I celebrate above all this proof of the capability of EU-cooperation, to get provider-consumer relations right on this issue. For the odds were not small: A formal, well financed campaign of big and smaller providers like Vodafone (GB) and France Telecom has been raging. But they did not prevail against Swedish Eurocommissioner Viviane Reding (EUobserver.com, October 2).
This case is a weapon against Euroscepticism. It should be used.
(Parts of this post were originally published at huibslog)