O2 reveals new roaming rates

The mobile operator launches O2 Travel, one day after the European Parliament ruling to reduce roaming charges

O2 today unveiled new rates for customers using their phones abroad.

The O2 Travel package will cut the price of data roaming and phone calls for EU citizens travelling to other member states. O2's announcement comes one day after new rules for roaming charges were voted in by the European Parliament.

Following a recommendation from the European Commission (EC), the EU ruling body voted to install caps for roaming charges at a much lower rate, from July this year.

The EC legislated to reduce the costs even further over the next two years.

Support for the legislation was overwhelming, with 578 votes in favour of the bill. It stated that operators would only be allowed to charge up to 70 cents per megabyte of mobile data used, with the cap moving down to 45 cents by 2013 and 20 cents by 2014.

The pricing for voice calls will also be forced down from its current maximum of 35 cents per minute to 29 cents, with the price dropping further to 20 cents by 2014. The price of texts will decrease from 11 cents to 9 cents by 2013, and bottom out at 6 cents by 2014.

A spokesman for O2 admitted the company had been expecting the changes, so had been working on the new tariff for some weeks. The spokesman said it was “a happy coincidence that the EU came out just before us”.

O2 Travel will charge a day rate of £1.99 for 25MB of data and a one-off charge of 50p to make a phone call, which will then revert to taking minutes from a user’s usual contract agreement. Text messages will be charged at a standard rate of 9p.

It will be available to both pay monthly and O2 SMB customers from July. Pay as you go customers will also be able to take advantage of the £1.99 data deal, but will be charged 29p per minute to make calls and 8p to receive them.

The scheme is opt-in, allowing customers to use the service for one day at a time.

The announcement comes on the same day O2’s parent company, Telefonica, announced its results for the first quarter of 2012.

Telefonica now has 309 million access points connected to its network, up 7% since last year, and mobile broadband users have risen by 55%.

Revenues rose slightly to reach €15.5bn, although this excluded the losses incurred by the reduction of mobile termination rates in another legislative change from the EU.

However, Telefonica was happy with the 1.6% rise, as it managed to grow despite negative impact from adverse regulation in Europe and a lower contribution from Spain.

Telefonica reported net income of €748m.

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