European Union governments and lawmakers have agreed to cap the price of calling between EU countries, following the elimination of mobile roaming surcharges, according to Reuters.
The deal is part of a wider overhaul of the bloc’s 15-year-old telecoms laws to encourage operators to invest in fibre broadband networks and open up radio frequencies for next-generation 5G services.
However, the European Parliament has pushed for the prices of international calls within the EU to be capped, arguing that they were often disproportionately high. Under the provisional deal, calls from one EU state to another will be capped at 19 euro cents per minute while text messages will cost no more than 6 euro cents each, according to Reuters.
“No more overly expensive calls and SMS!! Today we decided to put a cap on prices if you call or text another EU-country from your home. Good step forward,” tweeted Miapetra Kumpula-Natri, one of the lawmakers involved in negotiating the deal.
According to figures from the European Consumer Organisation BEUC, the cost of calling other EU countries currently varies from 5 cents a minute to 80 cents a minute.
“Excessive surcharges for phone calls from a consumer’s home country into another EU Member State is far from what people expect in a single market,” said Ursula Pachl, deputy director general of BEUC.
The agreement also includes measures allowing incumbent telecoms operators like Deutsche Telekom and Orange to be deregulated if they co-invest in new broadband networks with rivals. Wireless spectrum licences will be awarded for at least 20 years under the new law, down from the 25 originally proposed, disappointing the industry.
The deal has to be endorsed by both member states and the parliament before becoming law.