Last year, the European Union managed to put a price cap on international roaming charges added to phone calls and text messages sent and received on the European continent. Now it wants to do the same with wireless web surfing and downloading data.

Speaking at the Mobile World Congress today, EU Commissioner Viviane Reding told operators to drop prices or face penalties or even legal action.

Price drops by summer

Reding warned operators that data roaming charges will have to come down by 1 July at the latest, Reuters reports. "Higher roaming charges abroad must be justified by additional costs of operators. If not, they will have to disappear," Reding said.

On average, transferring 1Mb of data (roughly the size of a large Excel spreadsheet) when you’re abroad costs €5.24 (£3.91), figures from the European Regulators Group show. Compare this to the unlimited data plans that many mobile operators offer for £40 and less, and that suddenly seems an extortionate figure.

Some operators have already promised to cut data roaming prices. Vodafone said Friday it would reduce prices by up to 45 per cent on its monthly data roaming tariff for business users, according to Reuters. It will now charge a maximum of €60 (£44.74) per month for 150Mb per data.