The Commission presents a proposal for a long-term solution on the roaming issue

The Regulation proposed would introduce structural measures to boost competition by allowing customers from 1 July 2014, if they so wish, to sign up for a cheaper mobile roaming contract, separate from their contract for national mobile services, whilst using the same phone number.

The European Commission Vice President and responsible for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes, underlined that the proposal would also immediately bring down prices for data roaming because it tackles the root cause of the problem, the lack of competition on roaming markets.

The Commission's proposal has as main goal to end the current lack of competition and consumer choice by making it easier for alternative operators, like mobile virtual network operators, to enter roaming markets by requiring network operators in other Member States to give them access to their networks at regulated wholesale prices. This would create more competition between operators on roaming markets, and so increase the incentives for them to offer customers more attractive prices and services. In addition, letting consumers choose an alternative provider for roaming services, irrespective of their national provider. Each time the customer crossed a border, they would automatically switch to their chosen roaming provider, without any further action on their part, while keeping the same number and subscriber identity module (SIM card).

The proposal would also introduce a new retail price cap for data roaming (which would remain in force until mid-2016). This would ensure that users of smart phones, tablets and other devices to access the Internet through mobile networks could go on line whilst abroad without running up huge bills. The Commission proposes that consumers would pay no more than 90 cents per Megabyte (MB) downloaded from 1 July 2012, falling very steeply to 50 cents per MB by July 2014. Since July 2009 the wholesale price caps for data roaming have been in place, but savings have not been passed on to the consumer. The proposed retail caps serve as a mere safety-net for consumers, while the Commission expects that the proposed competition-enhancing structural measures would deliver innovative pan-European offers and cheaper prices, significantly below the safeguard caps.

Other measures proposed are keeping retail price caps for roaming voice and text message (SMS). These would gradually decrease for all roaming services and would also remain in force until mid-2016. Also, keeping data roaming "bill shock" protection in order to continue with the €50 limit to the monthly bills for data access over mobile networks when abroad unless the customer explicitly agreed otherwise. Retain caps on wholesale prices between operators for all roaming services until 2022 (voice, SMS and data) in order to create a predictable investment environment for alternative operators. Wholesale price caps could be removed before 2022 if market data indicated that competition had developed sufficiently.

With this proposal, the Commission aims to meet the objective set in the Digital Agenda for Europe that differences between roaming and national telecoms tariffs should approach zero by 2015. The proposal will be submitted to the European Parliament and EU's Council of Ministers for adoption.