EC rules to curb SMS roaming charges

Sending a text message home to boast about a beach vacation should cost less than half of what it does now, EU regulators said.

An Associated Press report also said the European Commission wants to set a price cap for text messages of €0.11 (US$0.16), far below the current EU average of €0.29 (US$0.43).

The report further quoted the EU's top telecom official, Viviane Reding, saying she was putting the new rules forward because telcos companies had not responded to her call for them to lower the roaming charges for sending or receiving mobile phone text messages outside a user's home nation.

'There is no reason or justification in a normal functioning market for so excessive prices,' she said.

The effort builds on an EU campaign last year to slash the cost of voice calls made and received outside a user's home nation, the Associated Press report said.

And it comes as the cost of text messages also has come under scrutiny in the US, where a key member of the Senate Judiciary Committee has asked the nation's top four wireless carriers to justify why prices for individual text messages have doubled since 2005.

The European action was met with disapproval from companies that say the EU is interfering in the market without proving its claim that lowering prices would drive up text-message usage.

The companies said their lost revenue could harm their plans to invest in future technology.

The EU regulators will also ask for a stricter cap on voice calls. The plan would bring prices from the current level of €0.46 (US$0.68) per minute to €0.34 (US$0.50) per minute for a cell phone call made abroad.