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EU Wants Ceiling On Text Messaging Roaming Charges

The EU will present a plan to cut the cost of mobile phone text messages in the fall, with implementation to take place in the summer of 2009.
Frustrated at what it has called the reluctance of European mobile phone service providers to sufficiently lower the price of cross-border text messages, the European Commission proposed a mandatory slashing of those costs for the European Union's 27 countries.

The EU said Tuesday that it will present a plan for lowering the cost of mobile phone text messages in the fall as draft legislation, with implementation to take place in the summer of 2009.

"It is not a good sign for the competitiveness of Europe's mobile industry that it still hasn't got the message that credible price reductions are needed to avoid regulation," said EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding, according to media reports from Brussels. "There will be a fixed ceiling, not a fixed price. EU citizens should be free to text across borders without being ripped off."

The regulatory action has been resisted by the cell phone industry, which has argued that onerous regulations cause operators to hold back on investing in new services. The GSM Association has said that the price of cross-border text messaging had dropped by 18% in recent months while mobile Internet costs had dropped by 25%.

Industry sources said some 25 billion text messages are sent across country borders every year in Europe and that the cross border prices were 10 times that of in-country prices.

Jose Manuel Baroso, president of the European Commission, said lower text messaging fees for roaming would boost European business. "Europe's single market should be allowed to play its part, making sure that no borders reappear on travelers' phone bills," he said.

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