Europeans to enjoy lower roaming fees

European business travelers and holidaymakers can look forward to lower rates on mobile phone calls while abroad in the EU once new price caps go into effect across the bloc starting this week, an AFP report said.

But although some mobile operators made new offers to their customers even before the caps take effect, holdouts can wait until the end of July at the latest before offering new deals, the AFP report said.

Once the new regulations on so-called roaming rates go into effect on June 30, operators will have one month to make new offers to customers at below EU-set price caps on calls between EU countries.

Under the rules, operators cannot charge EU subscribers making cross-border calls within the 27-nation bloc more than 49 euro cents ($.66) a minute in the first year of application while receiving a call could cost no more than $.24.

The ceiling for roaming services, which excludes value added tax, would then drop again in the second year, falling to 46 euro cents ($62) and 22 euro cents ($28) and then 43 euro cents ($58) and 19 euro cents ($25.7) in the third year.

Operators will have one month to activate the new so-called Eurotariff for customers who actively seek to benefit from the new rate, which means that a well-informed mobile phone user could benefit as early as this August.

However, customers who do not respond to operators' new offers or who do not already benefit from a roaming package will get the Eurotariff from September 30.

Also under the new rules, when a customer enters another EU country the subscriber will receive a text message saying what rate their operator applies there.

The impact of the new Eurotariff will vary widely among the European Union's 27 member states because rates differ greatly from one country to another, which was the main reason the caps were deemed necessary.