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Making calls abroad is cheaper

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A maximum of 19 cents per minute of telephone call, no more than six cents per SMS – Brussels wants to cover telecommunications prices in other EU countries. The EU Parliament voted for a corresponding directive.

Following roaming charges, the European Union is now putting a stop to high prices for calls to other EU countries. The European Parliament voted by a large majority for corresponding new rules. According to this, calls from one’s own country to another EU state should only cost a maximum of 19 cents per minute – whether from a mobile phone or a landline phone. The costs per SMS are capped at a maximum of six cents.

Effective from May 2019

Now the Council of the Member States must give the green light, which is considered a formality. Then the new price caps may come into force in May 2019. „It was high time to cover the sometimes outrageous prices for international calls in the EU,“ said Constanze Krehl, telecommunications spokeswoman for the European SPD. „With German offerers one pays so far partially ten times.“

In contrast, the so-called roaming charges for calls from foreign networks in other EU countries had already been abolished in the summer of 2017. However, according to a Forsa study in the spring of 2018, this also caused confusion: more than half of all respondents (52 percent) who had telephoned to other EU countries in the previous twelve months believed that the abolition of roaming charges was also a problem for Calls from Germany to other EU countries apply.

The decision also meets with consumer advocates on approval. „Thanks to the new regulation, consumers will in most cases save considerable costs for their calls to other EU countries from May 2019,“ said a spokesperson for the European Consumer Association. The Federal Consumer Association welcomes the price capping.

The new legislative package provides for a cost reversal as well as a kind of reverse emergency call. In dangerous large-scale situations such as terrorist attacks and natural disasters mobile phone users should be able to be warned by text message or app. Such a system would have to set up EU Member States within 18 months of the official adoption of EU rules.

Other new features: Phone or mobile phone contracts should provide an easy-to-understand overview of the future conditions. In addition, information about possible cost reimbursements must be included – for example, if consumers still have unused prepaid credit when switching providers.

The package also envisages that frequencies for the fifth generation (5G) mobile network will be available by 2020. The EU countries should allocate the corresponding spectra to telecommunications companies for 20 years. This perspective should provide companies with greater security of investment.