EU lawmakers approve new price cap on text message

April 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: EU travellers to get cheaper mobile messages

Related Stories

EU travellers to get cheaper mobile messages

March 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.

EU site lists wireless roaming charges

October 4, 2005

Europeans now have a concise Web site they can use to avoid the pitfalls of roaming charges while using their cell phones on the road.

Virgin Mobile joins prepaid price war

April 9, 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

Researchers find tweeting in cities lower than expected

February 20, 2018

Studying data from Twitter, University of Illinois researchers found that less people tweet per capita from larger cities than in smaller ones, indicating an unexpected trend that has implications in understanding urban pace ...

Augmented reality takes 3-D printing to next level

February 20, 2018

Cornell researchers are taking 3-D printing and 3-D modeling to a new level by using augmented reality (AR) to allow designers to design in physical space while a robotic arm rapidly prints the work.

What do you get when you cross an airplane with a submarine?

February 15, 2018

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed the first unmanned, fixed-wing aircraft that is capable of traveling both through the air and under the water – transitioning repeatedly between sky and sea. ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.