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European Commission acts to cut cost of texting and mobile data services abroad

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 European Commission acts to cut cost of texting and mobile data services abroadMobile phone users can expect the cost of sending text messages from abroad in the EU to be much cheaper next summer. The European Commission today 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 €0.11 per SMS compared to the current EU average of €0.29. The proposals will now be submitted to the European Parliament and Council, who must agree before they become law. The EU already reduced charges for making and receiving calls abroad (voice roaming) by 60% in summer 2007.

“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 José 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.”

EU Consumer Commissioner Kuneva said: “If Europe wants to deliver concrete results for its 500 million consumers, then practices whereby operators charge for a service which they do not deliver should not be acceptable. Today, consumers are overcharged by 24% on average for mobile calls they make abroad as roaming calls are very often charged not by the second, but only by the minute. A priority for us is fair treatment of consumers when they cross a border and this is why the Commission decided today to introduce the principle of per second billing for all roaming calls”.

A typical French customer sending a roaming text message from holidays in Italy this summer could pay up to €0.30, while a Czech tourist would pay up to €0.42 (10.00 CZK). In Spain, a Swedish holidaymaker could pay up to €0.40 (3.79 SEK) per message when roaming, a German €0.32, a Pole €0.47 (1.50 ZL), a tourist from the UK €0.63 (£0.40 GBP) and a Latvian even as much as €0.70 (0.49 LVL) per SMS. The Commission therefore proposes a retail cap of €0.11 on roaming text messages (excluding VAT), combined with a €0.04 cap at wholesale level. Wholesale prices are charged by one operator to another for a customer to send a message between their networks. Operators are encouraged to compete below these maximum price caps, set by the Commission after a detailed impact assessment with input from the European Regulators Group (ERG).

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