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Last Updated: Friday, 16 March 2007, 15:35 GMT
EU 'agrees' cap on mobile charges
Mobile phone
Roaming charges are made when you use your mobile abroad
The price of using a mobile phone in another EU country could be capped at 50 cents ($0.66; 34p) a minute.

EU telecoms ministers agreed in principle to the limit at an informal meeting on the sidelines of the CeBIT hi-tech fair in Hanover.

The European Parliament will debate the issue in May and ministers are understood to want the new law to come into effect at the beginning of July.

The legislation is the brainchild of the EU IT Commissioner Viviane Reding.

Ms Reding was understood to have favoured capping the roaming charge at 44 cents.

Consumer champion

The capped prices exclude the value-added taxes imposed by member states.

It was promoted at the EU's spring summit in Brussels last week as evidence of the EU acting as a consumer champion.

Mobile operators have vociferously opposed capping, saying it will reduce investment in network infrastructure.

Margaret Hodge, UK minister of state for industry, warned her European counterparts against rushing ahead with legislation if it allows the operators to recuperate the lost roaming revenue through higher domestic charges.

"We need to make sure that any deal is the right one - one that delivers cost reductions for all consumers," she said.

The EU first said in July 2006 that it was planning to cap roaming charges after discovering that current prices were putting people off using their phones while on holiday.

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