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EU puts cap on cell phone roaming charges

The European Parliament has passed regulations that will impose a price cap on cell phone operators and cut the cost of making calls from outside a user’s home country.

Mobile phone in argentinaEnlarge
A cellphone displays software to get access to the web, email, chat and social networks in on March 15, 2012. (JUAN MABROMATA/AFP/Getty Images)

The European Parliament has passed regulations that will impose a price cap on cell phone operators and cut the cost of making calls from outside a user’s home country.

Under the plans, which were voted in by a 578-10 majority Thursday and are to take effect from July 1, phone companies in the European Union will only be allowed to charge 90 US cents per megabyte of data plus VAT, The Daily Telegraph reports. As recently as 2009 the cost was six times that amount.

By 2014, the maximum cost of downloading data is to be further slashed to 25 US cents, and consumers travelling abroad will be able to choose a different operator from the one they use at home.

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The EU said the new regulations were designed to put a stop to “bill shock” – the moment when travellers realize they have amassed massive bills after making calls and using data applications like maps while away, the BBC reports.

The 27-member bloc said the changes would save a “typical” businessman more than 1,000 euros ($1,295) per year. European lawmaker Ivo Belet said: “In a borderless Europe, there is no place for charges that diverge so much at home and abroad,” while EU Internet Commissioner Neelie Kroes told parliamentarians on Wednesday that high roaming charges were “a constraint on businesses and a constraint on economic growth.”

According to Bloomberg, France Telecom and other telecommunication companies have complained that they may lose revenue as a result of price caps and other regulations, particularly because data roaming provides between 5-10 percent of wireless data revenue.  

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/120510/eu-puts-cap-cell-phone-roaming-charges