EU slashes mobile fees by half to help summer travellers

Mon Jun 30, 2014 9:08am EDT

* Prices for data downloads in EU cut by half

* Fees for calls, texts also cheaper from July 1

* EU has been cutting roaming charges since 2007

By Julia Fioretti

BRUSSELS, June 30 (Reuters) - Surfing the Internet on mobile phones when travelling within the European Union will be 50 percent cheaper from Tuesday under EU-mandated cuts, in time for the summer holiday season.

Fees for calls and text messages will also be reduced although not by as much, the EU said on Monday.

The EU executive has been chipping away at so-called roaming fees since 2007 and charges for browsing the Internet are now more than 80 percent lower.

"This huge drop in data roaming prices will make a big difference to all of us this summer," said Neelie Kroes, the EU telecoms commissioner.

Kroes is hoping that all roaming charges, including on calls and text messages, can be eliminated across the 28-country European Union by the end of this year but first needs all EU governments to agree to the European Commission's proposals for an overhaul of the telecoms market.

While there is broad agreement among member states on consumer friendly measures such as the elimination of roaming fees, other aspects including the sale of mobile licenses are still opposed by some governments.

The European Commission is keen on being seen to be helping the EU's 500 million consumers especially at a time when anti-EU sentiment is on the rise in many countries.

The timing of the roaming cuts, just ahead of the summer holiday season, is part of its efforts to appear consumer-friendly.

The cost of using the Internet in another EU country will fall to a maximum of 20 cents per megabyte, from 45 cents from Tuesday.

Making calls across the bloc will cost 19 cents per minute instead of 24 cents, while the cost of receiving calls will fall to 5 cents per minute from 7 cents.

Travellers will pay 6 cents to send text messages, down from 8 cents.

Consumers will also be able to choose a local mobile provider for data services when travelling in the EU, allowing them to compare various offers. (Editing by Susan Fenton)

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