Fabian Demicoli

European Parliament paves way for agreement on lower charges

 "In view of the current economic downturn, the Parliament is right in wanting to strengthen the purchasing power of European consumers as of this summer, which will encourage them to make even more use of their mobile phones", said Viviane Reding, the EU's Telecoms Commissioner, who had initiated the new roaming legislation and attended the Committee vote in Strasbourg on the 9th of March.

The European Parliament, through a vote in its Industry Committee, gave strong support to the European Commission's proposals to reduce, as of 1 July, consumer roaming charges for sending text messages and downloading data in the EU. The Commission proposed in September 2008 to make sure that consumers in the EU do not have to pay more than €0.11 per roamed SMS in the EU (excluding VAT).  At present, SMS roaming charges in the EU are on average €0.28 per roamed SMS and can go up to over €0.80 in some countries. The Parliament's Committee also voted in favour of ambitious measures to reduce the cost of data roaming charges (the cost for surfing the web or downloading data via a mobile connection abroad). To pave the way for lower consumer charges, the Industry Committee voted in favour of a cap on inter-operator charges of €0.50 per megabyte of roamed data. The Commission had proposed such a cap, but at €1 per megabyte.  Finally the Industry Committee voted for an obligation of operators to charge roamed calls by the second from the first second of a mobile call abroad.  The Commission had previously proposed to charge from the 31st second). The Commission had identified that consumers currently pay around 20% too much for roamed calls abroad because of imprecise billing methods.

Source: MEUSAC Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Sectoral Committee

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