The European Parliament has voted in favour of new EU rules on SMS and data roaming, proposed by the European Commission in September 2008. The new roaming rules, which add to the first EU Regulation on voice roaming adopted in 2007, are expected to come into force on 1 July 2009 and will apply until 2013. The Commission found that the dynamics of the roaming market have not changed sufficiently since the implementation of the original Regulation and prices remain very high.

The new EU roaming rules will cap the price that consumers can be charged for sending a text message while abroad at EUR 0.11, compared with a current average of EUR 0.28. It will reduce progressively the price caps for mobile roaming calls from EUR 0.46 to EUR 0.35 per minute by July 2011 and from EUR 0.22 to EUR 0.11 for mobile calls received while roaming abroad. Mobile operators will also be required to bill roaming calls per second after the first 30 seconds for calls made and from the first second for calls received while abroad. This will end the current practice of billing by the minute, by which customers are overcharged by up to 24 per cent. The new rules will introduce greater price transparency for roaming charges and protect customers from “bill shocks”.