STRASBOURG, France (AP) — European Union lawmakers are proposing new price caps on cell phone roaming fees and text messages from abroad, two years after EU regulators moved to curb what they called “excessive” prices.
The price limits, agreed Tuesday by the European Parliament’s industry committee and the Czech presidency of the EU, must still be approved by the full European Parliament and the bloc’s 27 governments before going into effect July 1.
Under the provisional deal, cell phone operators would have to charge customers by the second — instead of the current system of by the minute — but they could also charge a fee for the first 30 seconds.
Text messages from abroad would cost no more than €0.11, not including local sales tax. Mobile phone calls from abroad would be charged a maximum of €0.43 per minute for the caller, and €0.19 per minute for the receiver.
Those price caps would fall further on July 1, 2010 — to €0.39 per minute for outgoing roaming calls and €0.15 per minute for incoming.
On July 1, 2011, they would drop again to €0.35 per minute for outgoing calls and €0.11 per minute for incoming.
There would also be a limit for how much travelers can be charged to access their Internet service provider from abroad — set at €1 per megabyte from July 1; €0.80 from July 1, 2010; and €0.50 in 2011.
From March 1, 2010, customers would be given an option to fix a maximum price for mobile Internet charges to avoid surprise invoices for hundreds of euros. Operators would warn users when they use 80 percent of their limit, and alert them when they hit the limit.