THE EUROPEAN Commission and European lawmakers and governments have reached an agreement to reform mobile roaming fees, allowing mobile customers to pay less for calls, texts and web services when travelling abroad, in a measure that could hit the profits of telecom operators, the Reuters newswire reported.
The agreement was announced on March 28 and is expected to be approved by the European Parliament in May and take effect in July.
The agreement sets roaming fees for this year and establishes a schedule for their further reduction in coming years at a compromise level between the initial pricing proposal advanced by the European Commission and lower prices proposed by the European Parliament in February.
The reform is likely to affect revenues at Europe’s big telecom groups, Reuters wrote, and also aims to increase competition by allowing consumers to choose their mobile operator as they cross borders.
The newswire said the EU action will create a new market for roaming services rather than requiring consumers to use their home-country operator.
EU lawmakers haggled for nine months over how much to reduce roaming costs. The final roaming cost to mobile users is much lower than the European Commission’s initial proposal in July 2011.
The announced agreement provides that roaming charges on calls made while travelling within EU countries cannot exceed 29 cents per minute and calls received while outside one’s home country should cost no more than 8 cents per minute.
Sending a text message while abroad has a ceiling charge of 9 cents and accessing the internet has a ceiling price of 70 cents per megabyte.
By 2014 these caps should decrease further, by almost a third, except for internet connection costs, which are to drop to 20 cents per megabyte.