Monday, March 9, 2009

European Parliament Reaches Agreement to Lower Data Roaming Charges

The European Parliament, through a vote in its Industry Committee, agreed to the European Commission's proposals to reduce, as of 1 July, consumer roaming charges for sending text messages and downloading data in the EU.

In September 2008, the Commission proposed setting a limit of EUR 0.11 per roamed SMS in the EU (excluding VAT) At present, SMS roaming charges in the EU are on average EUR 0.28 per roamed SMS and can go up to over EUR 0.80 in some countries.

The data roaming charges (the cost for surfing the web or downloading data via a mobile connection abroad) will also be reduced. To pave the way for lower consumer charges, the Industry Committee voted in favour of a cap on inter-operator charges of EUR 0.50 per megabyte of roamed data. The Commission had proposed such a cap, but at EUR 1 per megabyte.

The Parliament's lead Committee on the new roaming legislation also endorsed measures to enhance the transparency of roaming charges to eliminate the risk of "bill shocks" for data roaming. Finally the Industry Committee voted for an obligation of operators to charge roamed calls by the second from the first second of a mobile call abroad (Commission proposal: from the 31st second). The Commission had identified that consumers currently pay around 20% too much for roamed calls abroad because of imprecise billing methods.

"Yesterday's vote in the European Parliament is very good news for consumers all over Europe. In view of the current economic downturn, the Parliament is right in wanting to strengthen the purchasing power of European consumers as of this summer, which will encourage them to make even more use of their mobile phones", said Viviane Reding, the EU's Telecoms Commissioner, who had initiated the new roaming legislation.

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