Scots MEP Hails EU Mobile Price Cuts
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 new roaming rules were proposed by the Commission in September 2008 and received the broad support of the EU's 27 Telecoms Ministers in November last year. The vote in the European Parliament today was the last hurdle before the new roaming rules enter into force on 1 July this year - just in time for the summer holidays.
The European Parliament in Strasbourg passed the legislation overwhelmingly by 646 votes in favour, 22 votes against and 9 abstentions.
The new roaming rules will cap the price that consumers can be charged for sending a text message while abroad at 0.11 euro (compared to a current average of around 0.29 euro) thus bringing down the prices for roamed SMS by 60%. Furthermore, the new law will reduce the cost of surfing the web or downloading movies with mobile phones while abroad by introducing a wholesale cap of 1 per MB downloaded (this cap will go down to 0.80 euro in 2010 and to 0.50 euro in 2011).
Speaking from Strasbourg, Smith said:
"This is fantastic news for Scots holidaymakers and business travellers alike. Consumers will save an estimated 5 billion euros a year, leaving more holiday money in peoples' back pockets and protecting them from bill shocks. 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 and the European Parliament has today demonstrated that it is fully committed to slashing rates and protecting EU citizens from unjustifiably high phone charges.
"With the British population sending more than one billion text messages per week, consumers can have peace of mind that they can stay in touch with their family and log on to Facebook whilst sitting on the beach for a great deal cheaper. I am delighted these measures have been passed in time for the summer holiday season."
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