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Prices capped for calls and texts between EU member States
A DRAMATIC drop in the cost of mobile phone calls and text messages between European Union member States has been brought in from today (Wednesday), potentially saving travellers up to 70%.
Thanks to the newly-effective European Electronic Communications Code (CECE) and the Organisation of Electronic Communications Regulators (ORECE), calls between the 28 countries may no longer cost any more than 19 cents per minute, and SMS messages, six cents a minute.
These prices do not include IVA, or VAT, since this varies from nation to nation.
It comes just a year and 11 months after the EU dropped roaming charges for mobile phones used in member States other than those in which they were registered, but is not the same concept.
Roaming fees meant general data use, such as internet connection via an operator, was much more expensive outside the country of origin of the mobile phone – to such an extent that most travellers would put their phones into 'flight mode', disabling all connections, whenever they left their national borders, and only used them when they were in a WiFi hotspot.
But now, the costs for using a mobile phone, other than calls and text messages, are the same anywhere in the EU, as long as the phone is run via an operator in an EU country.
SMS messages and calls will not cost the same from one country to the next, but a strict cap has been placed on charges, reducing these – in the case of Spanish mobile operators – by around 70%.
As an example, if a Spanish mobile user based in La Jonquera, Girona, were to call someone in La Línea de la Concepción (Cádiz province), the southernmost point of the mainland and a 10-hour drive away, after three minutes on the phone, this national call would cost 43 cents plus IVA; however, if the same person in La Jonquera rang a friend in Le Pérthus, three kilometres north and over the French border, that same three-minute call would cost €1.50 plus IVA.
Likewise, sending a text to a friend up the road in Le Pérthus to say you were just leaving and would be with them in 10 minutes would cost two-and-a-half times that of texting a friend in La Línea to say you were just leaving and would be with them by tomorrow night.
The main aim of the ORECE and the CECE is to create a Europe-wide digital communications market, allowing high-capacity networks such as 5G to be rolled out across the continent and to improve accessibility, competition, security and quality of service.
With the new price cap for cross-border calls, the EU is one step closer to creating a competitive single digital market.
For Spanish mobile users, the latest survey by the consumer research monitor, the 'CIS Barometer', shows that 42% are in contact with one or more persons in another EU country, and 26% of these do so via landline, SMS or mobile calls, whilst nearly double this figure uses exclusively WhatsApp, email, Facebook or other internet-based communications channels.
Those most affected by higher prices outside Spain are the 19-24 age group, or about 40%.
The reduced prices apply to individuals only, since corporate customers tend to enjoy more competitive deals with operators in any case.
At present, the regulation only applies in the EU-28, but is soon to spread to the EEA countries of Norway, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Iceland.
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