In hopes of avoiding a repeat of last year’s European Commission (EC) ruling that forced dramatic cuts in mobile roaming rates throughout Europe, Telefonica of Spain unveiled substantial reductions in mobile data roaming rates that the company also hopes will lure customers away from competitors before the start of the 2008 summer travel season. Experts believe that Telefonica’s announcement could trigger a wide-scale reduction in mobile data rates throughout Europe that could avert a potential EC clampdown later this year. Telefonica was one of the first operators in Europe to slash mobile roaming fees in anticipation of EC-mandated rate cuts last year. Under the plan disclosed this week, Telefonica said it would reduce mobile data rates by more than 40% in Spain and throughout its European operations in the Czech Republic, Germany, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. The rate cuts, which are scheduled to go into effect next month, apply to mobile service subsidiaries O2 and Movistar and target both pre-paid and contract customers. Once the new rate policy goes into effect, Telefonica’s price for sending text messages home from any market in Europe would drop to U.S. 48-cents per message. Telefonica O2 Europe Chairman Matthew Key proclaimed that the announcement “honors the promise we made to customers that, having reduced the cost of calling [while] abroad, we would bring down the last barrier in roaming charges— data.”