The European Parliament has voted to reduce the price of text messages sent between EU countries to €0.11 (10p) from €0.28.
It also voted to substantially reduce data roaming charges by introducing a wholesale cap of €1 per megabyte downloaded, compared to an average wholesale price of €1.68 per megabyte, with peaks in Ireland (€6.82), Greece (€5.30) and in Estonia (€5.10). The wholesale cap will fall to €0.80 in 2010 and to €0.50 in 2011.
The Parliament also voted for further cuts in EU roaming call costs. The present cap for a mobile phone call made abroad will progressively drop from €0.46 to €0.35 per minute by July 2011, and from €0.22 today to €0.11 for mobile calls received while roaming abroad.
Mobile networks will also be required to bill roaming calls by the second after the first 30 seconds, which will end the current billing practice under which the European Commission believes consumers are overcharged by up to 24 per cent.
European Commission president José Manuel Barroso said: “I welcome the strong support the European Parliament has today given the Commission’s proposal for creating a single telecoms market for all Europeans, whether they are crossing a border as tourists or as business travelers. After this vote, Europe is now clearly the most attractive continent in the world for mobile phone users. I expect this to translate very swiftly into even stronger growth for mobile data services in the EU.”
EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding added: “Today’s vote marks the definite end of the roaming rip off in Europe. Thanks to the strong support of the European Parliament and the Council, the new roaming rules were agreed in the record time of just seven months. Just in time for the summer holidays, European citizens will now be able to see the single market without borders on their phone bills.”
The Parliament also voted to protect consumers from “bill shocks” by allowing customers to choose a cut-off mechanism once the bill reaches €50, unless the consumer opts for a higher limit. Networks will have until March 2010 to put these transparency measures in place. Following today’s Parliament vote, the new EU Roaming Regulation will become directly applicable law throughout all 27 EU member states on July 1.