EU to cap roaming data charges
If you've ever been abroad and been stung by extortionate roaming costs, this bit of news may well brighten up your summer holiday this year.
The EU has announced that the cost for making calls, sending messages and browsing the web abroad will fall from July this year, and continue to fall further in 2010 and 2011 as well.
This is all thanks to a deal European MPs have brokered with network operators. Even better, the prices that have been agreed are to be the absolute maximum operators will be allowed to charge for the services, rather than the going rate.
The agreement will see the cost of sending a text message capped at 11 cents (10p) throughout Europe, and the cost of browsing the web being capped at 1 Euro (92p) per megabyte. The latter would fall to 50 cents (46p) by July 2011.
Calling home will now be easier on your pocket too, with operators being able to charge no more than 40p per minute for outgoing calls.
There'll be no more rounding up of call durations to the nearest minute either. The agreement would see operators having to charge per second, although they would be able to charge for a minimum period of 30 seconds.
To help you out, operators will also have to offer the ability for customers to put a spending cap on their bill before travelling, and then be warned when they hit 80% of their limit. Very handy for avoiding unexpected enormous bills.
Of course not everyone is happy with this. The GSM Association has said it is "disappointed" with the deal, which apparently is being pushed earlier and further than originally suggested by the EC.
It's not set in stone yet. The agreement has to go before the European Parliament's industry committee at the end of the month and will the be voted on in April to see if it is approved. We'll keep you updated.