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Costs to be slashed for texting abroad

European mobile SMS charges 60% cheaper in 2009.

European Union flag

The European Commission today announced plans to cut the cost of sending texts (SMS) from your mobile when travelling in European Union (EU) countries by up to 60%.

The move follows similar price cuts to the cost of making and receiving mobile calls in the EU that the European Commission enforced in 2007. As a result, a UK consumer using a mobile abroad (often called mobile roaming) in Europe pays no more than 38p a minute to make phone calls and 19p a minute to receive them.

Mobile texting abroad

At present, sending a text abroad typically costs between 25p and 40p, depending on your mobile operator. Costs may also vary depending on the country you’re using your mobile in, and whether you’re a pay as you go (PAYG) or contract customer.

This compares to a typical PAYG cost within the UK of around 5p to 10p per text. Most people on a mobile contract have some inclusive texts as part of their monthly fee. 

The European Commission plans to bring texting costs (excluding tax) down to around 11 cents, which is around 9p per text.

Mobile roaming regulation

It was hoped that mobile operators would cut the cost of sending texts in the EU without the need for regulation, but they failed to do so by the European Commission’s deadline of July 1, 2008.

In an exclusive interview, European Commissioner Viviane Reding told Which?: ‘The mobile industry has not been able to put its own house in order. It’s unfortunate that European legislators have had to step in yet again, but enough is enough.

‘The structure of text roaming pricing means that there’s a huge amount of profit for companies and only a small percentage of what consumers pay reflects the cost to companies. European consumers should not be punished for crossing a border. If everything goes right, the new caps on mobile SMS should be in place by next Summer.’

The proposal will see the new price caps introduced in July 2009.

Mobile data roaming

The Commission has also announced plans to cap the costs of using mobile internet (data roaming) in Europe. It says that mobile network operators should provide a clear way for consumers to effectively cap their own data download spending if they want to.

The proposal seeks to cap the wholesale price of data roaming – the price that network operators charge each other – to around 80p per MB, which could lead to a fall in prices charged to consumers – and is proposed to be introduced in July 2010.

Cutting call costs

The Commission is also calling for calls from mobile phones made abroad within the EU to fall further. It wants roaming voice tariffs to fall to around 27p per minute for calls made abroad, and to around 8p per minute for calls received abroad. The proposal calls for the lower prices to be enforced by July 1, 2012.

The proposals also call for charges to be billed by the second after the first 30 seconds of a call.

Cut the cost of mobile roaming

The European Commission has no authority outside of EU countries, so mobile roaming prices remain high for UK consumers travelling in many countries worldwide.

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