The Council of the European Union has officially announced an extension to the mobile roaming caps due to come into force next month.
The agreement will see the gradual reduction of mobile roaming charges across Europe, and an extension of pricing limits to cover SMS, data services and voice calls beyond 2010.
The move is intended to ensure that mobile users travelling within the EU are not charged an unjustifiably high price for making or receiving a call, sending or receiving a text message, and transferring data, compared to their country of origin.
The announcement also cements proposals for a VAT-exclusive upper limit to be placed on mobile calls, messages and data, which will gradually be reduced over the course of the next two years.
Outgoing calls will be capped at 43 cents (37p) per minute from 1 July 2009, dropping to 39 cents (33p) on 1 July 2010 and 35 cents (30p) on 1 July 2011. Incoming calls will cost no more than 19 cents (16p), falling to 15 cents (13p) and then 11 cents (9p) over the same time period.
Per-second billing will be mandatory from the first second when receiving calls, and after the first 30 seconds when making calls. The cost of text messages will be capped at a maximum of 11 cents (9p).
Travellers accessing mobile data services while abroad will see more stringent rules put in place, and a throttling back of charges to €1 (86p) per megabyte this year, 80 cents (69p) by 2010 and 50 cents (43p) by 2011.
New measures are also being put in place to help travellers avoid running up large data bills by providing tools to monitor and control expenditure, including price cap thresholds and warnings.
These new measures are set to expire on 30 June 2012, but will be reviewed by the European Commission from 30 June 2011.
Roaming services provider Starhome said that it has seen a rush of operators scrambling to prepare for the new rules, while Vodafone has temporarily sidestepped the entire issue by offering free roaming throughout the EU for the summer.
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