Sending a text message home to boast about a beach vacation should cost less than half of what it does now, EU regulators said Tuesday.
The European Commission wants to set a price cap for text messages of 11 euro cents (16 U.S. cents), far below the current EU average of 29 euro cents (43 cents).
The EU’s top telecom official, Viviane Reding, said she was putting the new rules forward because telecommunications companies had not responded to her call for them to lower the roaming charges for sending or receiving mobile phone text messages outside a user’s home nation.
“There is no reason or justification in a normal functioning market for so excessive prices,” she said.
The effort builds on an EU campaign last year to slash the cost of voice calls made and received outside a user’s home nation. And it comes as the cost of text messages also has come under scrutiny in the U.S., where a key member of the Senate Judiciary Committee has asked the nation’s top four wireless carriers to justify why prices for individual text messages have doubled since 2005.
The European action was met with disapproval from companies that say the EU is interfering in the market without proving its claim that lowering prices would drive up text-message usage. The companies said their lost revenue could harm their plans to invest in future technology.
The EU regulators will also ask for a stricter cap on voice calls. The plan would bring prices from the current level of 46 euro cents (68 cents) per minute to 34 euro cents (50 cents) per minute for a cell phone call made abroad. Receiving a call on a mobile phone internationally would incur charges of 10 euro cents (15 cents) by July 2012, down from 22 euro cents (32 cents) now.