EU Forces Down Cellphone Roaming Charges

For decades now, roaming charges have ate at the nerves of travelers. If there's one thing that has always been classified as a "rip-off," it's cellphone roaming charges, particularly international charges. No matter which carrier you have at home, you can rest assured that you'll be healthily gouged while talking, texting or surfing while in foreign lands.

Thankfully, at least some higher-ups are finally realizing just how absurd these charges are becoming, and the European Union is stepping up to do something about it. Starting this week, making a call or text across the set of EU nations will be much less expensive. Tariff cuts are being implemented across the region, which will save callers up to 60% in fees.

EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding proudly proclaimed: "All Europeans making calls or sending texts with their mobiles can experience the EU's single market without borders. The roaming rip-off is now coming to an end." Effective July 1st, carriers will only be allowed to ding customers a maximum of 11 euro cents (around $0.15) per roamed SMS excluding tax, compared to around 28 euro cents now. As for calls, those will be capped at 43 euro cents per minute versus 46 cents previously, and at 19 cents, down from 22 cents, for calls received abroad. Mobile data? Yep, that's being curbed too. Downloading data while roaming will cost a maximum of 1 euro per megabyte at the wholesale level now, compared with about 1.68 euros before.

Needless to say, the moves have caused quite a stir on both sides of the argument, but it's clear that the consumer has everything to gain here. Now, if only we could convince these US carriers to tone down the abuse, we'd really be set.