Roaming fees on text messages will soon be capped, if the EU minister for telecommunications gets her way, along with the cost of internet surfing on cellphones.
The minister, Viviane Reding, wants to cap roaming texts at 11 Euro cents a minute – a 62 per cent reduction on average – with a cap of €1 per megabyte for using the internet – roughly half of what it is now. Currently SMS roaming prices vary from 6 cents in Estonia to 80 cents in Belgium.
Of the €300 billion spent on telecommunications in the EU last year, €800 million was spent on SMS roaming and €560 million on data roaming, according to the EU commission.
Despite opposition from the mobile operators, Reding's proposals are likely to be accepted by the European parliament with new charges likely to be put in place by next summer. Last year, her proposals for capping voice roaming were easily voted in – a move that she reckons has saved customers up to 60 per cent on charges.
David Pringle, a spokesman for the London-based GSM Association, which represents wireless operators, was less enthusiastic. "In our view, these markets are healthy, competitive and functioning well," he said. "There is no need for Brussels to set prices."
There's a surprise.