EU proposes drastic cuts on mobile roaming charges

September 23rd, 2008 - 11:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Brussels, Sep 23 (DPA) Europe’s 500 million citizens may soon find it much cheaper to use their mobile phones while travelling abroad, according to proposals agreed Tuesday by the European Commission.The proposed measures include a price cap of 0.11 euros ($0.16) - excluding VAT - per text message sent by customers when in another European Union (EU) member state.

This compares with a current EU average price of 0.29 euros. The 60 percent reduction would come into effect on July 1, 2009, subject to approval by EU governments and the European Parliament.

Wholesale price caps of 1 euro per megabyte for Europeans using their phones to surf the Internet or send e-mails while abroad are to be introduced from the summer of 2010.

Moreover, customers are to be allowed to set a limit on their data roaming charges before leaving their home country to avoid what the European Commission calls “bill shocks” of thousands of euros.

The proposed caps are based on a recent report by the European Regulators Group (ERG).

Media Commissioner Viviane Reding also said she wants to see a further reduction in maximum roaming charges for voice calls, as from 2012.

The price cap for making a call abroad would fall from the current 0.46 euros to 0.34 euros, while the maximum price that mobile phone operators would be able to apply to customers who receive calls would drop from 0.22 euros to 0.10 euros.

Per-second billing is to be made mandatory across the EU in order to stop operators from rounding up bills to the next minute.

“Using your mobile phone abroad in the EU should not cost unjustifiably more than at home, whether for making calls, sending texts or surfing the Web,” Reding said.

A Danish study recently found that it costs mobile phone operators just 0.01 euros to send a text message. Reding said the price cap of 0.11 euros was meant to give operators further leeway when setting prices.

The commissioner said the executive was forced to impose the new rules after mobile phone operators failed to bring down prices on their own initiative.

Virtually all of the EU’s nearly 500 million citizens own a mobile phone. And text messaging is particularly popular among the young.

Last year, Europeans sent a total of 2.5 billion text messages worth 800 million euros.

But they are still far from enjoying a US-style single market when it comes to roaming charges.

Belgians and Latvians, for instance, are currently charged more than 0.70 euros per SMS when travelling in another EU country.

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