EU data roaming charges slashed by half


Data roaming charges will be slashed by more than half in the European Union (EU) next month as lawmakers push ahead with plans to scrap the fees altogether.

From July 1, downloading a megabyte of data will cost 20 cents, down from 45 cents, while the cost of making a call will be cut from 24 cents to 19 cents per minute, according to the European Commission, the EU's executive arm. Text message charges will also see a drop from 8 cents to 6 cents.

Mobile users have traditionally been charged a premium rate for sending messages, using mobile internet and making calls in different countries around the EU.

Kroes: end of roaming costs 'sour but also sweet'

Data has become increasingly important with many devices now connected to the internet. But due to high roaming charges, consumers have been put off from using their internet abroad with 94 percent of Europeans who travel outside their home country limiting their mobile data use because of premium prices, according to the Commission.

Read MoreEU plans to end roaming fees to hit telcos from 2014

European lawmakers have been working on rules to abolish the fees altogether since 2007. Members of European Parliament backed the wide-ranging package of telecoms reforms and now it is up to member states to give their final seal of approval. If the proposals are approved, they would come into effect from December 2015.

"This huge drop in data roaming prices will make a big difference to all of us this summer," the EU's digital chief Neelie Kroes said in a statement.

"But it is not enough. Why should we have roaming charges at all in a single market? By the end of this year I hope we see the complete end of roaming charges agreed."

TommL | Vetta | Getty Images

The effect of the cut in roaming charges has been felt by major European telecom players. Telefonica Europe's revenues fell 10.6 percent in 2013 from the year before with the company citing a reduction in roaming rates as a key reason for the drop. This is adding further pressure on European telecoms companies already facing declining revenues.

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The EU estimates that roaming charges have dropped 80 percent to 90 percent from 2007 to 2014.

But some critics of the proposals claim they are taking too long to become law and affecting the potential growth of European businesses.

"The urgent need for European businesses is right now – waiting 18 months to bring EU roaming regulations into force and limiting it to Europe isn't enough for businesses competing in a global economy today," Rob Jones, European managing director for Truphone, an international mobile network, told CNBC in an email.