Page last updated at 10:22 GMT, Thursday, 26 March 2009

European mobile data prices set

Woman using mobile, BBC
The cost of sending text messages while overseas should drop

Using a mobile phone abroad in Europe looks set to get cheaper.

European MPs have brokered an agreement that will see the tariffs for making calls, sending text messages and browsing the web fall from July 2009.

All the prices that have been agreed are regarded as a ceiling and are the maximum that operators will be allowed to charge for the different services.

Before coming into force the tariffs must be approved by member states and the European parliament.


The agreement caps the cost of sending a text message at 11 cents (10p) throughout Europe.

Currently, texting tariffs vary widely across Europe. On average Europeans pay 29 cents to send a text and some pay as much as 80 cents.

43 cents per minute from July 2009
39 cents per minute from July 2010
35 cents per minute from July 2011

Other data costs, charged to send e-mails or browse the web, will be regulated at the operator level. The agreement fixes how much a roaming operator can charge a customer's home operator.

From July 2009 the rate will be a maximum of 1 euro (92p) per megabyte and will fall to 50 cents (46p) from July 2011.

1 euro per megabyte from July 2009
80 cents per megabyte from July 2010
50 cents per megabyte from July 2011

In addition mobile owners will be able to agree a spending cap with their operators to ensure they do not rack up huge, unexpected bills while abroad. Customers will be warned when they have reached 80% of their spending limit.

The agreement also further pushes down the price of making a phone call while abroad. For each minute of conversation, customers should be charged no more than 43 cents from July 2009. Further falls will follow in 2010, and 2011.

Mobile operators will also have to change the way they charge customers for calls. Currently many round call durations up to the nearest minute before working out charges.

Under the proposed agreement operators will have to move to per-second call charges but can impose an initial minimum charging period 30 seconds in length.

The GSM Association said it was disappointed with some aspects of the deal which brought price caps in earlier and went further than had been initially suggested by the European Commission.

The agreement goes before the European Parliament's industry committee on 31 March and is expected to be voted on in a full session by 24 April.

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