European travellers will pay less to use their mobile phones while abroad in the EU from Wednesday when new regulated price caps take effect across the 27-nation bloc.
Under the new limits, the price of making a call while abroad in the European Union will fall to 43 euro cents per minute, excluding sales tax, from a previous maximum of 46 euro cents.
The price of receiving calls abroad will drop to 19 cents from 22 cents.
The lower caps are part of an ongoing EU campaign to reduce the cost of using mobile phones across European borders, known as roaming fees, after regulated limits were first imposed in 2007.
The regulated prices are also being extended, for the first time, to cover sending text messages and surfing the Internet via phone.
"The roaming-rip off is now coming to an end," said EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding in a statement.
Under the new rules, sending a text message from abroad in the EU will cost a maximum 11 cents, excluding sales tax, little more than a third of the previous EU average of 28 cents.
In order to reduce the cost of surfing the Internet from hand-held devices, the new rules will also limit the price operators charge each other for transferring a megabyte of data while a user is on the road to a maximum of 1.00 euros.
Mobile operators will also have to bill customers by the second from the 30th second of a call in order prevent them from rounding up to the highest minute, a practice which can cost consumers dearly.
"I call on the mobile industry to pass these savings on to data roaming customers swiftly," Reding said.
"The (European) Commission and national regulators will monitor data roaming charges very carefully and assess next year whether the roaming market is finally becoming competitive."
(c) 2009 AFP