Lawmakers reach preliminary deal on capping roaming fees

EU negotiators agreed to cap mobile phone roaming charges in an effort to cut costs for travelers using their phones abroad, although it remained to be seen whether customers would benefit from the new tariffs this European summer holiday season, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said negotiators for the European Parliament and EU governments set the roaming cap at 0.49 euros ($0.66) per minute for making a call when abroad and 0.24 euros ($0.33) per minute for receiving one, plus VAT, the report further said.

The report said the deal still needs approval from the European Parliament and EU member countries.

A vote in the EU assembly is expected next week.
If passed, EU governments will likely vote on the proposal June 7 to 8, the report said.

'We can't guarantee an agreement, but we're almost there,' German conservative lawmaker Angelika Niebler was quoted as saying. It was unclear whether all groups in the European Parliament would go along with the proposed deal, reached after four rounds of negotiations.

Under the deal, network providers would have one month from the time it is approved to offer customers the new pricing plan, the report said.

Customers would have two months to choose whether they want to go with the new roaming charge plan or stick with their existing service contracts, the report said.

This means that if there are no glitches, European holidaymakers would theoretically be able to enjoy the capped rates by mid-July, but only if they reply to their providers' offer without delay, the report further said.