The European parliament has approved new caps on cross-border charges for mobile phones, including data, call and text services. The new limits will take effect on July 1.
Mobile phone users in the European Union will benefit from lower roaming charges for data, call and text services from July 1, after the bloc's parliament backed new caps on cell phone services when travelling.
Lawmakers voted 578 to 10 to reduce the maximum rate telecommunications companies can charge for people to make phone calls, send text messages or surf the Internet across the 27-nation European Union.
This year, the cap is to be extended to the consumer price for data. From July 1, the limit for data roaming costs will be set at 70 cents ($0.91) per megabyte for 2012, drop to 45 cents next year and settle at 20 cents in 2014.
The rate to make a call will drop from 35 cents to 29 cents per minute this year, coming down to 19 cents in 2014. Receiving a call will be a maximum of eight cents per minute this year before settling at five cents in 2014. Sending a text will cost nine cents this year before falling to six cents in 2014.
"By putting price caps on data we have created a roaming market for the smartphone generation," the European Union commissioner for telecommunications, Neelie Kroes, said. "More than that, we have ended the rip-offs familiar to anyone who has used a mobile phone while travelling abroad."
The European Commission estimates that a Belgian family of four going on holiday for a week in France or Italy, for example, will save up to 200 euros to use data services on their smartphones. For business people, such as a Briton going to France or Germany 10 times for three days during the year, the savings could amount to around 1,000 euros.
The EU's directive will also allow consumers to purchase roaming packages outside their country of residence.
ng/mz (AP, AFP, dpa)