EU lowers mobile roaming fees

Checking e-mail or surfing the Web on a mobile phone while travelling in the European Union will be a third cheaper from Monday under roaming cuts enforced by the EU’s regulator in time for the summer holiday season.

The European Union has been eager to show its relevance to EU citizens with measures to cut the cost of consumer goods such as flights and roaming fees, with mobile charges a particularly popular step over the past several years.

“The EU has to be relevant to people’s lives,” the EU’s telecoms regulator, Neelie Kroes, said on Thursday as she announced the 36 percent reduction in roaming fees.

Kroes wants to completely eliminate the fees across the 27-nation EU, but there are doubts about whether that can be achieved in the 18 months left in her mandate.

This summer’s caps were announced in March last year, but the Commission typically trumpets the lower rates ahead of the summer holidays, when they take effect.

EU regulators have been chipping away at the charges since 2007. The latest cut marks an 80 percent decline since then.

From July 1, the cost of using the Internet while abroad falls to 45 cents per megabyte from 70 cents.

Making calls declines to 24 cents per minute from 29 cents, and receiving calls to 7 cents per minute from 8 cents.

The cost of sending text messages will also go down, to 8 cents from 9 cents. Mobile users don’t pay for receiving text messages while travelling in the bloc.

All of costs will fall again on July 1 next year.

“The latest price cuts put more money in your pocket for summer, and are a critical step towards getting rid of these premiums once and for all,” Kroes said in a statement.

The cuts will also mean very substantial reductions in charges in Croatia, a popular summer holiday destination. The country is joining the European Union on Monday, raising the total number of member states to 28.

The Commission said mobile Internet use in Croatia will be nearly 15 times cheaper than at present, and text messages and voice calls to another EU country would cost 10 times less from next week.

(Reporting By Claire Davenport; editing by Luke Baker)

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EU lowers mobile roaming fees