EU Enacts Mobile Roaming Fee Caps

Almost a year after the initial proposal, the EC slashes costs of calling between member countries. New rates should be in place by summer

Euro MPs have taken a machete to roaming charges after a compromise on rates was hammered out between MEPs and the European presidency earlier this month. Mobile users can now expect the cost of calls made abroad to drop in time for the summer.

Today saw the voting through of the compromise agreement by an "overwhelming majority", according to the European parliament, and it's hoped the legislation could come into force as early as next month.

Under the compromise agreement, the European wholesale rate - the price one operator can charge another for consumers who roam on their network - will be €0.30 per minute. The MEPs have also confirmed the retail rate - what an operator can charge the mobile user - of €0.49 per minute for calls made and €0.24 per minute for calls received.

Both wholesale and retail rates will drop by a few eurocents each year during the three years the legislation is initially proposed to last.

The agreement has been welcomed by Viviane Reding, the European Commission's information society minister, almost a year after the EC initially proposed dramatic cuts in roaming charges.

She said in a statement: "Today is a good day for consumers and business travellers in the EU... This means that already from this summer mobile phone customers will start benefiting from substantially reduced roaming charges when travelling from one EU country to another. Europe's internal market will finally become truly borderless, even for mobile phone bills."

The GSM Association, the trade body which represents the mobile industry, has been less than effusive about the legislation, saying it "is unnecessary, will curb competition and risks long-term harm to consumers".