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EUR 60 limit on domestic mobile data services: RTR ordinance enters into force as of 1 May 2012

“Disputes about charges for mobile data services accounted for more than 40% of all procedures submitted to our conciliation body in 2011, and many cases involved several hundred euros. We have consequently adopted the Cost Limitation Ordinance (KostbeV) to enter into force on 1 May 2012, which specifies an upper limit on the rates charged for exceeding data volumes accessed through domestic mobile Internet service. We are expecting this to provide another effective means of protecting consumers,” Georg Serentschy, Managing Director of RTR’s Telecommunications and Postal Services Division, announced in presenting the new RTR ordinance.

The Cost Limitation Ordinance applies only to contracts stipulating tariffs for mobile data services that are charged by the volume used. “Our ordinance would, for example, protect consumers who have a tariff package for mobile Internet that includes a monthly data volume of 15 GB and a charge of 25 cents for each additional MB beyond this data limit. In such a case, the operator is prohibited from charging more than EUR 60, in addition to the stipulated base fee, when the agreed volume for mobile data services is exceeded during the billing period. The operator is responsible for ensuring compliance,” Serentschy stated, illustrating the provision of the ordinance. “Consumers must give their explicit consent to their operator lifting the block.”

Automatic blocking of mobile data services

When charges of EUR 60 are reached, the operator has three options. The operator can for the rest of the billing period either block the subscriber from using data services or provide further use free of charge, either with or without limiting bandwidth to at least 128 kpbs. The operator is required to notify the subscriber by text message when a block or bandwidth limit is set.

Operators subject to comprehensive information obligations

The ordinance additionally requires operators, subject to technical feasibility, to notify subscribers before the contractual data volume is exceeded or as soon as EUR 30 in additional charges have been incurred. The warning is issued in each case via a text message.

It is possible to waive the application of a cost limitation free of charge at least once a year; the reactivation of the protective measures is always free of charge. A waiver can only be issued at the subscriber’s explicit request and must be submitted in writing.

An information sheet on the Cost Limitation Ordinance may be viewed (in German) on the RTR website by following this link: http://www.rtr.at/de/tk/InfoblattKostbeV. The ordinance, along with explanatory notes, may be viewed by following this link: http://www.rtr.at/de/tk/KostbeV.

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