EU warns firms over foreign textsMobile companies told to cut prices or face action

12 February 2008

A close-up of someone holding a mobile phone.

Mobile phone companies have been warned they face action if they don't slash the costs of sending text messages or accessing the internet from abroad.

The warning from EU Commissioner Viviane Reding was made at the at the mobile industry's main European trade fair in Barcelona.

A text sent while abroad can cost as much as 49 pence and British travellers pay £4.11 per megabyte of data compared with paying £1.50 while at home.

Ms Reding said that sending text messages or downloading data via a mobile phone in the EU should not be substantially more expensive than sending text messages or downloading data at home.

July deadline

She said she wanted to see the industry take action itself rather than face action from EU and national regulators and has given them until the start of July to reduce charges.

Ms Reding said: ‘Low interconnection charges are not just essential to break down barriers to an open internet between providers inside a country. They are also absolutely essential to breaking down the borders that today divide up the mobile internet in Europe when it comes to data roaming.

‘I want to see the end of these artificial borders between networks and nations which are both preventing private consumers and business customers to benefit fully from the single borderless market we have created between 27 EU countries so far.’

Last year the European Commission introduced the EU Roaming Regulation, as a result of which the cost of making a call while abroad is capped at 49 euro cents (about 38p)per minute.