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Eurocrats mandate maximum charge for data roaming

No more 'bill shock'?

3G HSDA modem dongle

From today, Europe's mobile phone networks must work with customers to prevent the use of mobile broadband while travelling from costing the Earth.

Roaming rules put in place by the European Union's Council of Ministers and the European Parliament in June 2009 oblige O2, Orange, Three, T-Mobile, Virgin Media, Vodafone and others to offer customers of a monthly limit beyond which punters will not be charged.

The EU suggested a €50 (£45) cut-off point, but networks are free to agree any other amount with their customers.

Customers who don't make a choice by 1 July will have a €50 limit imposed upon them.

The legislation was put in place to prevent so-called 'bill shock' where phone users accumulate massive bills while travelling in Europe and accessing the internet on roaming tariffs.

Recently, we reported the story of student William Harrison who clocked up almost £8000 in charges for using his UK Orange 3G dongle in France.

The EU's roaming rules limit the wholesale price of data to €1 per megabyte, though carriers are free to charge their customers more. Most, if not all of them, do.

Some networks charge as much as £5 per megabyte to access the internet overseas. Until today, download an 800MB movie and you'd be billed £4000.

Now, when you reach 80 per cent of your agreed limit, your carrier must warn you that you're nearing your cut-off point. When you hit the limit, data access will stop, but you won't end up with a bonkers bill - at least, not for data roaming. ®

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