The 27 countries that make up the European Union agreed on Tuesday to cut cellphone roaming charges for tourists in Europe, proposing a cap of roaming calls at 35 cents a minute beginning in 2011. Currently, the cost of a one-minute call of a French subscriber making a phone call in England, for example is 45 cents, though it's due to drop to 43 cents later in 2009. By mid 2010, that rate will drop to 39 cents, all part of a process that began in 2007 as European tourists complained of being taken advantage of when traveling outside of their home countries.
At the same time, the EU representatives considered initiating billing that would to the round bills to the nearest 30 seconds, instead of charging a full minute for calls that are just a few seconds in duration.
The EU negotiators revisited the related issue of the high cost of sending text messages when not in their home country. They hope to cut the maximum price of a text message to 11 cents, down from the current average in Europe of 29 cents, which is about 10 times more than in home countries. Some countries charge as much as 80 cents. The price of data is to be capped at 80 cents per megabyte starting next year, dropping to 50 cents in 2011.
Last fall, a proposed law was considered that would have text messages costing just 16 cents, with a megabyte of data priced at $1.46.
The new proposal is not yet law, and will be put in front of the EU parliament for approval in April.