Roaming SMS charges to decrease in Europe

Outspoken European Commissioner Viviane Reding has received backing on her group's move to end "roaming rip-offs," with the Council of EU Telecoms ministers agreeing to place limits upon roaming text messages and data charges.

In the ever-important interest of keeping competition fair and affordable in the EU, regulators sought to bring down the price of text messages sent from a member nation other than the sender's homeland, and to ensure transparency in billing. In 2007, the European Commission enacted similar regulations on roaming voice calls.

The average cost for a roaming text message in the EU is currently €0.29; under the new regulations it will drop to €0.11 on July 1, 2009. The Eurotariff on outgoing roaming calls that was enacted in 2007 will drop from €0.43 to €0.40, and fees for incoming calls will decrease from €0.19 to €0.16. Both of these charges, according to the commission, will continue to drop by three cents per year. Of course, these are not suggested prices, but rather price ceilings.

Wholesale data roaming fees will be capped at €1 per MB in July as well; this refers to the prices that network operators charge one another for use. The wholesale price for SMS will be limited to €0.04.

The Transport, Telecommunications, and Energy Council approved the EC's proposal (PDF available here) and will pass the decision onto the European Parliament for its first-reading opinion in April.

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