Europe reduces cap on voice-roaming prices

Price reductions are due to EU regulation that aims to "curb the excessive roaming charges consumers had to pay for roaming calls."

The European Commission has lowered the price ceiling for roaming voice calls.

Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding announced on Friday that starting August 30 the price cap for roaming calls on mobile phones would be reduced from 0.49 euros (72 cents) to 0.46 euros per minute (excluding value-added tax) for making a call, and from 0.24 euros to 0.22 euros per minute (excluding VAT) for receiving a call, while in another EU country.

The price reductions are due to the EU's Roaming Regulation, adopted by the Commission in 2007 to "curb the excessive roaming charges consumers had to pay for roaming calls."

"The EU Roaming Regulation was introduced so that Europeans could exercise freedom of speech with their mobile phones without fear of excessive bills when traveling in the single market," Reding said in a statement on Friday. "As a result, over 400 million consumers across Europe have benefited from significant savings of around 60 percent when making and receiving calls during travel, holiday or business."

Reding and the Commission have now set their sights on text and data roaming costs, which they say are "unjustifiably high."

"In the first quarter of 2008, a customer using data services paid on average 2.05 euros per megabyte while roaming with companies from their operator's group, and 5.40 euros per megabyte for roaming with non-group companies," Reding stated. "Italian and Slovak consumers who roam with a non-group company can even pay over 12 euros per megabyte."

The EU Roaming Regulation will expire in 2010, and is currently under review. The Commission must propose whether to extend the regulation by the end of 2008, following a request from the European Parliament.

Tom Espiner of ZDNet UK reported from London.

 

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