Scots MEP Hails EU Crack Down on Mobile Roaming Charges

10 March 2009
SNP Member of the European Parliament Mr Alyn Smith has today hailed a vote in the Parliament's Industry Committee backing the European Commission's plans to reduce the cost of sending text messages while abroad in the EU by 60% from 1st July 2009. This will prove to be a great boost for Scots consumers and holidaymakers.

The European Commission has long targeted phone companies for charging unjustifiably high roaming charges. Last year the European Commission and Parliament successfully slashed the costs operators can charge for roaming mobile calls to other EU countries.

The Commission has extended this effort to reduce the price for sending text messages and internet browsing to other EU countries, taking the average cost of text messages sent abroad from the current 23 pence to 9 pence by 2009. As for surfing the internet and downloading videos and music with your mobile phone, prices can range from €0.25 eurocents per megabyte (MB) to over €16 per MB. The plans also include an obligation on mobile phone operators to inform you by text how much it will cost to send and receive other sorts of data, such as emailing or surfing the web via your mobile from the EU country you are in. Furthermore, from 1 July 2010 at the latest, consumers will no longer have to pay for receiving a roaming voicemail message while abroad in the EU, says another amendment added by the Industry Committee.

Speaking from Strasbourg, Smith said:

"The European Parliament and Commission took positive steps to reduce excessive charges applied by mobile phone operators to Scots calling to and from abroad last year. This year, we have taken even bigger steps to include both text messaging and web browsing. I am confident that these proposals will find warm support within Parliament and will be approved into law.

"For Scots holidaymakers and business travellers alike, this is a win-win situation. If these measures are implemented then consumers will save an estimated 5 billion euros a year, leaving more holiday money in people's back pockets. As someone who has to use their mobile abroad on a regular basis, I'll confess this is good news for me too.

"Text messaging is big business across Europe. According to latest figures from the Mobile Data Association (MDA), the British population is sending more than one billion text messages per week.

"I look forward to these measures being implemented especially in time for the summer holiday season."