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Roam for less in EU parliament committee votes

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Roam for less in EU parliament committee votes
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Mobile phoning abroad in the EU could get cheaper by this summer. A key lawmaker in Brussels said it is highly possible new rules will be in place by then.

A European Parliament committee has backed plans
to cap mobile roaming charges. The European Commission considers the costs too high and is proposing binding corrective measures.

The parliament’s Industry Committee voted for a cap of roaming charges at 40 eurocents a minute to make a call abroad and 15 eurocents a minute to receive one.

All EU countries have backed regulated charges in principle. Consumer groups and the Commission says that roaming charges are typically more than one euro per minute to make calls, and that this signals a market failure.

Telecoms operators have said the regulation would hinder investments in vital infrastructure and that in any case rates are already falling. But there are inconsistencies which many consumers find incomprehensible.

Sample tariffs show that a French subscriber calling home can expect to pay four euros for four minutes, and pay as much as one euro eighty-eight just to receive a call.

In the same non-peak period, a caller with a German operator can expect to pay around five euros to call home from France, and to receive a voice call from Germany pay as much as two euros seventy-six.

The parliamentarians are due to hold a full vote on the measure in May. One of two parliament members steering the regulation through the EU legislature, Paul Ruebig, said: “If you cross an international border, you should immediately be sent a text message informing you about the roaming price per minute.”

If the parliament and EU countries continue to disagree on key details, the parliament may have to vote again, potentially delaying implementation by up to a year.