EU lawmakers OK cap on mobile roaming fees

EU lawmakers overwhelmingly endorsed a deal to cap roaming fees in the 27-nation bloc, slashing the phone bills of millions of executives and holidaymakers, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said the landmark measure, which is all but certain to be backed by telecommunications ministers next month, should take effect June 29, according to German Economy Minister Joachim Wuermeling.

Operators will then have one month to offer customers a new pricing structure with considerably cheaper roaming fees, the report said.

The report also said mobile phone users will have another two months to choose whether they want to go with the new plans or stick with their existing contracts.

After that, they will be put on the new contract automatically, it added.

The Associated Press report also quoted EU Telecommunications Commissioner Viviane Redding as saying that Europeans will benefit from the cap as early as August.

Under the new rules, the retail roaming cap will be set at 0.49 euro (66 cents) per minute for making a call when abroad and 0.24 euro (33 cents) per minute for receiving one, plus value-added tax, the report said.

The ceilings would drop further, to 0.43 euro ($0.58) for making calls abroad and 0.19 euro ($0.26) for receiving them, by 2009. The regulation will then lapse, unless the EU decides to extend it, the report further said.

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