(AP) BRUSSELS — The European Union is introducing new rules that would make it cheaper to use mobile and smartphones abroad.
The proposals from the EU’s executive Commission Wednesday seek to spur competition among providers and put new caps on roaming charges.
For the first time, the EU is slapping caps on the price individuals have to pay for going online from a smartphone or tablet computer when moving from one country to another. The EU is made up of 27 countries.
The European Commission also said that from July 2014 operators will have to open their networks to providers from another EU state, which would give consumers more providers to choose from. At the same time, consumers will be able to sign a separate roaming contract, allowing them to take advantage of cheaper offers when moving about.
The new rules will kick in when the bloc’s existing regulation on mobile roaming expires at the end of June next year.
While the current rules have forced the price of making calls down to 35 euro cents (about 50 U.S. cents) a minute when traveling in another EU country and kept a lid on the cost of receiving calls and sending text messages, the Commission believes that charges remain way too high.
The Commission’s goal is to bring roaming prices in line with national ones by 2015, an important step in getting the 27-country bloc closer together and spurring business and freedom of movement in the EU’s internal market. The new rules would also apply in non-EU states Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.