EU lawmakers approve new price cap on text message

Apr 22, 2009 By AOIFE WHITE , AP Business Writer

(AP) -- EU lawmakers voted Wednesday for a new price cap that will cut the cost of sending text messages from abroad by nearly two-thirds.

Phone users will pay a maximum of 11 euro cents (14 cents) for sending text messages from another European Union nation starting July 1, down from the current average cost of 28 euro cents (36 cents).

The European Parliament also approved new, lower caps for "roaming" calls that set a ceiling of 43 euro cent (56 cents) per minute for making a call and 19 euro cents (25 cents) for receiving one.

Mobile Internet users could also see cheaper fees as the Parliament fixed a one-euro ($1.29) limit per megabyte on how much operators could charge each other to use their networks.

"Today's vote marks the definite end of the roaming rip-off in Europe," said EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding, who had pushed hard for the lower charges.

"Just in time for the summer holidays, European citizens will now be able to see the single market without borders on their phone bills," she said.

The Parliament vote was the final approval needed for the price caps after EU telecoms ministers said they were in favor.

Telecoms companies' association GSMA said they were unhappy with price regulation and hoped the price caps would expire - as intended - in mid-2012. They say regulation could hurt the new investments that have cut mobile prices by more than a third since 2004.

Consumers' group BEUC said it would start pushing in 2011 for the price caps to be extended again.

Text messages are wildly popular in Europe, especially among people under the age of 25. Some 2.5 billion were sent in 2007 at a total cost of 800 million euros ($1 billion).

The cost of sending a message from abroad varies widely in different nations. Latvians on vacation in Spain can pay as much as 70 euro cents (91 cents) per message, while Germans would pay just 32 euro cents to 37 euro cents (41 cents to 48 cents).

The European Union's executive first took on mobile phone operators two years ago, claiming they were charging tourists and business travelers excessive prices for calls when they are outside their home nation.

But they only moved against roaming charges for text messages and mobile Internet late last year - and set a new schedule for price caps on voice calls to drop by 2013.

Customers will now also be billed per second after the first 30 seconds of a call. Regulators had claimed that billing in one-minute increments meant customers were paying nearly a quarter more than they should.

Mobile Internet users will also get more warnings on how much data they are downloading to avoid unexpected "bill shocks" like the 46,000-euro ($59,600) charge for one German customer who downloaded a TV program in France.

Beginning next March, users can cap monthly data fees at 50 euros ($65). This will be the default limit for all users unless they choose another maximum.

Operators will also have to warn customers when they have downloaded 80 percent of their agreed limit and tell them again when they've hit the limit and how they could keep on downloading if they want. If the customer doesn't respond, the roaming connection will be cut.

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explore further: DOCOMO and Huawei confirm LTE network over unlicensed spectrum

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

EU travellers to get cheaper mobile messages

Mar 24, 2009

European travellers will pay less to send text messages and access the internet via mobile phone networks, under a compromise deal thrashed out by EU negotiators Tuesday, a spokesman said.

Virgin Mobile joins prepaid price war

Apr 09, 2009

(AP) -- Virgin Mobile USA Inc. is set to announce Thursday that it is slashing the price of its unlimited calling plan to $50 from $80 per month, a result of fierce competition and price-cutting among second-tier cellular ...

Recommended for you

Bringing emergency communications together

Aug 21, 2014

A new University of Adelaide research project aims to improve emergency operations through integrated communications systems for police and the emergency services.

For top broadband policy, look no further than Canada

Aug 20, 2014

You might have seen communications minister Malcolm Turnbull raising the issue about Australian press not discussing policy problems and solutions from overseas, in a speech delivered at the Lowy Institute Media Awards last week: ...

Cities, states face off on municipal broadband

Aug 19, 2014

Wilson, N.C., determined nearly a decade ago that high-speed Internet access would be essential to the community's social and economic health in the 21st century, just as electricity, water and sewers were in the previous ...

New loss mechanism for global 4G roaming

Aug 19, 2014

A loss mechanism that has not been an issue in previous mobile handset antennas will become important for global 4G roaming, according to results of experiments carried out in Aalborg, Denmark.

User comments : 0