Internet roaming fees must drop-EU

A European Union official told mobile phone operators their charges for wireless internet and text messages must drop by July 1 to avoid EU intervention, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said Vodafone Group, Royal KPN of the Netherlands and Germany's E-Plus, under threat of a price cap, all cut some prices last week to bring the cost of using one's phone abroad closer to the cost at home.

The report also quoted EU Telecommunications Commissioner Viviane Reding as saying that this was a good first move.

But she said costs faced by tourists and business travelers sending text messages or checking email on wireless devices must be cut further.

'The EU cannot accept that mobile operators make up to 20 times more profit on roaming customers than on their domestic customers,' she said in a meeting with mobile phone company chief executives in Barcelona.

'To avoid regulation, the industry will have to show its responsiveness to consumer concerns by credible reductions,' she said.

Costs people pay for making mobile phone calls outside their home countries have dropped by up to 60% since the European Commission capped fees on voice service last year, the Associated Press report further said.

That cap doesn't cover mobile internet or some 200 billion text messages that are sent annually in western Europe, the report further said.