Mobile operators will have to impose cut-off limit
Mobile phone customers can control how much they want to spend on surfing the internet while travelling within the European Union (EU).
Under new roaming rules introduced by the European Commission, mobile phone operators have to offer their customers a cut-off facility to protect them from ‘bill shocks'.
Customers who want to surf the internet using their mobile devices when abroad, will have to sign up to enforce the facility initially, but from 1 July the protection becomes automatic.
The default limit is 50 euros (about £45) a month but customers can choose a different amount if they prefer. People will first receive a warning when they hit 80 per cent of the chosen limit.
Neelie Kroes, Digital Agenda Commissioner, commented: "Protection against data roaming bill shocks is a useful step towards building customers' confidence to use mobile networks to surf the internet when travelling around Europe.
"Such confidence is essential if people and businesses are to use the Internet to its full potential."
Using mobile devices such as phones and laptops to access the internet when abroad, known as data roaming, has become increasingly popular with holidaymakers and people on business.
But some people have been hit by enormous bills that have been totally unexpected.
The EU has been investigating these charges and has limited the price operators pay each other per megabyte (MB) of downloaded data to a safeguard level of 1 euro per MB.
It anticipates that this price will fall further over the next two years but the savings when using mobile devices should be passed on to consumers so it is cheaper to use the internet while abroad.
Member States' national telecoms regulators are responsible for ensuring that mobile phone operators comply with the rule.
In the UK this is Ofcom and consumers can contact the regulator if they encounter any problems or have concerns over these cut-off limits.
For its part, the European Commission will continue to monitor developments in roaming services and the correct implementation of these provisions, in close co-operation with the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications.
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