Using a mobile phone while abroad should get cheaper this summer, thanks to new price caps that were agreed in the European Parliament last week.

Starting from 1st July, mobile phone operators will only be able to charge a maximum of:

  • 23p per minute to make a call
  • 8p per minute to receive a call
  • 9p to send a text message
  • 67p per megabyte for downloads

Those prices all include VAT, but were converted from Euros, so final UK pricing might end up differing slightly.

Mobile phone providers currently charge a fortune for using the internet abroad — a practice known as ‘data roaming’ — and cases of holidaymakers racking up enormous bills after downloading a large file or watching YouTube videos are well known.

Roaming rules introduced in 2010 helped prevent ‘bill shock’ by generating an automatic text message once roaming charges reached a certain limit and activating a cut-off to prevent costs increasing. From 1st July, this system will expand to cover mobile phone users who travel outside the EU.

From 1st July 2014, mobile phone roaming should get cheaper still, thanks to new rules that kick in allowing travellers to choose a separate roaming provider in addition to the one they use at home.

The key is that this will use the same mobile phone number as the home mobile provider, yet offer calls that are priced at the particular local rate.

The price caps introduced this year are intended to be an incentive for foreign providers to offer competitive rates, but they will expire in 2017 — by which time it will hopefully cost the same to use a mobile phone across Europe as it does in the UK.