Page last updated at 13:26 GMT, Monday, 1 March 2010

EU moves to prevent 'shock' mobile internet bills

Man holding Blackberry mobile phone
Brussels wants people to more happy to access the internet when abroad

A new Europe-wide rule to prevent mobile phone users from building up large bills for surfing the internet via their handset has come into force.

Customers can now require their phone firm to cut them off when their bill reaches a certain level after accessing the internet in other European nations.

If users do not put in place a limit by 1 July, it will automatically be set at 50 euros ($65; £45).

The phone firms will have to warn users when their bill hits 80% of the limit.

Accessing the internet via your mobile phone while abroad is called "data roaming".

European Commissioner for Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes, said: "Protection against data roaming bill shocks is a useful step towards building customers' confidence to use mobile networks to surf the internet when travelling around Europe.

"Such confidence is essential if people and businesses are to use the internet to its full potential."

The Commission added that if service providers did not honour people's set spending limits, national regulators would deal with complaints and impose any necessary sanctions.

Commission spokesman Jonathan Todd said the move was likely to reduce the cost of data roaming across Europe.

"This measure is likely to bring down the cost of data roaming, because if people stick to their own cash limits and find they don't get much access to the internet for their money, the tendency will be to bring down prices so you get more surfing for your money," he said.

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