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Lords say data roaming costs 'unacceptably high'

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The House of Lords EU Sub-Committee on the Internal Market, Energy and Transport has said that Britons are paying too much to use smartphones for data when traveling to other European countries.

Current roaming charges are "deterring consumers from accessing increasingly important smartphone services while abroad", the Sub-Committee warned.

"In order to avoid expensive roaming charges, many people feel they need to turn their mobile phones off when travelling abroad," it told the Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, Ed Vaizey.

The Sub-Committee told the Minister it wants him to push for the "robust regulation" required at a European level to "drive down the cost to consumers".

The crossbench committee also warned that more must be done to force mobile phone networks to "ensure better clarity and understanding of roaming charges". Punters, it said, "continue to be confused about the charges that apply". No wonder, then, that "'bill-shock' remains prevalent".

But how should this be achieved?

The Danish Presidency of the Council of the EU is already overseeing regulation of roaming, proposals for which are currently being discussed and which should, the UK government says, ensure "UK consumers will enjoy a price reduction of around 80 per cent" in retail data prices.

Current EU-wide roaming regulations come to an end on 30 June, so there's pressure to finalise the new set of rules before that date. A final European Parliament plenary vote is expected in May, and the regulations must then be agreed by one of the EU's Council bodies by the start of June if they are to be in force before the end-of-June deadline. ®

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