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By: MarkJ - 29 June, 2009 (12:32 PM)
Europe's (EU) new mobile Internet and text usage rules/charges, which have been designed to help prevent "bill shocks" and make the market easier to understand, will come into effect from Wednesday 1st July this week. A full summary of changes can be found below, with new prices adjusted to UK pounds.

"From the 1 July, all Europeans making calls or sending texts with their mobiles can experience the EU's single market without borders. The roaming-rip off is now coming to an end thanks to the determined action of the European Commission, the European Parliament and all 27 EU Member States," said EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding.

"expect the new EU roaming rules to make it much cheaper to surf the web on your mobile while abroad in the EU. For now, EU rules are limited to reducing inter-operator charges. I call on the mobile industry to pass these savings on to data roaming customers swiftly. The Commission and national regulators will monitor data roaming charges very carefully and assess next year whether the roaming market is finally becoming competitive."

The new EU roaming rules which are applicable as of 1 July:

- Limit the consumer price for sending a text message while abroad to 0.11 Euro (£0.09) (excl. VAT), compared to a current average 0.28 Euro (£0.23).

- Further reduce prices for mobile roaming calls. As of 1 July, caps are 0.43 Euro (£0.36) for calls made and 0.19 Euro (£0.16) for calls received abroad, falling to 0.39 Euro (£0.33) and 0.15 Euro (£0.12) on 1 July 2010 and to 0.35 Euro (£0.29) and 0.11 Euro (£0.09) on 1 July 2011 (prices per minute, excl. VAT). Until 30 June, the maximum price is 0.46 Euro for calls made and 0.22 Euro for calls received abroad.

- Introduce per-second billing after 30 seconds for roamed calls made and from the first second for calls received abroad. Until now, consumers paid up to 24% more than the time actually used making or receiving calls.

- Reduce the cost of surfing the web and downloading movies or video programs with a mobile phone while abroad with a new wholesale cap of 1 Euro (£0.84) per MB downloaded, compared to an average wholesale price of 1.68 Euro (£1.42) per MB, with peaks in Ireland (6.82 Euro), Greece (5.30 Euro) and Estonia (5.10 Euro).

The wholesale cap for downloading will fall during the next two years: to 0.80 Euro (£0.67) in 2010 and 0.50 Euro (£0.42) in 2011. Consumers will be informed on what they will pay for data services, as the new rules require mobile operators to provide (via an SMS or pop-up window) free, country-specific information on roaming charges to their customers when they enter another Member State and use data services.

- The new rules will also protect consumers from "bill shocks" by introducing a cut-off mechanism once the bill reaches 50 Euro (£42), unless they choose another cut-off limit. Operators have until March 2010 to put this cut-off limit in place.
The new rules, which build on the first EU Roaming Regulation (IP/07/870), will apply until summer 2012. The European Parliament and Council have asked the Commission to report on the new rules' functioning by summer 2010. The Commission could then propose further rules, if required, by the end of June 2011.
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