There is one thing less for Europeans to worry about this summer: The single market now applies to their phone bills while travelling in the European Union. They will be cheaper from this July.
The European Parliament just pressed ‘send’, in adopting legislation to cap telecoms charges on mobile phone text messageing and remote-surfing the Internet, known as ‘roaming’. Roaming means telecom connection service offered somewhere other than the location the service was signed up for. Why has this come just ahead of this June’s EU elections? MEP Adian Valean said: “Well, the subject of roaming is very important for European citizens, both because it’s about their bills in roaming but also because it shows that European Union can do something in particular concrete for the citizens, reducing the bills in roaming. It’s not something a member state can do alone. It has to be a united action, at the European level.” Rates should be as much as 60 percent lower. Operators will be allowed to charge customers no more than 11 euro cents per roamed text message, plus tax. Downloading data while roaming — buying a song using a mobile phone or using a wireless laptop — will cost a maximum of 1 euro per megabyte wholesale. The chief European Commissioner involved in this, Viviane Reding, finds companies’ pricing policies outrageous: “I think about young people most of all. Those who communicate between themselves through text messageing pay a penalty when they cross a European border. They are charged three, four, five… ten times more abroad than for textos they send inside their own country. We can’t have that: That is not the kind of Europe we want.”