European Commission Proposes New Cuts on Roaming SMS and Data Costs

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European mobile phone users can expect the cost of sending text messages from abroad in the EU to be much cheaper next summer. The European Commission has proposed to reduce the price of roaming text messages by 60% as of 1 July 2009.

EU citizens travelling in other EU countries should pay no more than ¢â€š¬0.11 per SMS compared to the current EU average of ¢â€š¬0.29.

The Commission says that it also wants to improve transparency for surfing the web and downloading data on a mobile phone while abroad: consumers used to cheaper data services at home should be better protected against roaming "bill shocks".

The proposals will now be submitted to the European Parliament and Council, who must agree before they become law.

"Europe, through its GSM standard, made mobile telephony attractive across the globe. It is now time to demonstrate that there is a truly single telecoms market in which consumers can use their mobile phone in all 27 EU countries without being punished when crossing a border," said Josĩ Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission. "If we get this done quickly we will see tremendous growth in SMS and data services, and send a message that lower roaming charges can be a win-win situation for all."

Viviane Reding, EU Telecoms Commissioner, said: "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. Europe's 37 million tourists and 110 million business travellers are waiting for the promise of the borderless single market to finally have a positive impact on their phone bills."

Roaming customers should also receive an automatic message with data roaming charges for the country they have entered. From summer 2010, consumers should be able to specify in advance how high their data roaming bill can go before the service is cut off - a measure designed to put an end to "bill shocks". These have led to customers receiving huge bills, in one case ¢â€š¬40,000 for downloading a TV show over a roaming mobile line.

Finally, the Commission wants price caps for roaming phone calls, introduced in 2007 (now at ¢â€š¬0.46 for calls made abroad and ¢â€š¬0.22 for calls received abroad), reduced to ¢â€š¬0.34 for calls made abroad and to ¢â€š¬0.10 for calls received abroad by 1 July 2012 (excluding VAT). Consumers would also benefit from per-second billing after 30 seconds for roaming calls made and per-second billing throughout calls received. Today, the Commission says that they pay 24% more than the minutes they use to make calls, and 19% more for received calls.

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Tags: sms  european commission  viviane reding  roaming  eu  text messages  billing  parliament  european parliament 

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