European Union strikes deal for lowering of mobile roaming fees


PARIS/BRUSSELS — The European Commission, European lawmakers and governments agreed to reform mobile roaming fees, allowing consumers to pay less for calls, texts and mobile Web services when traveling abroad, in a measure that could hit telecom industry profits. The deal announced on Wednesday is expected to be approved by the European Parliament in May and would take effect in July.

The reform, which had been hotly opposed by many of Europe’s biggest telecom groups such as Telecom Italia and Telefonica, includes caps on the prices charged to consumers that will decline annually until 2014. But perhaps more significantly, it also aims to increase competition by allowing consumers to choose their mobile operator when they cross borders. In effect, European policymakers are trying to create a new market for roaming services instead of requiring people to use their home-country operator.