Cross-border Texting Getting Cheaper In Europe

Dennis Faas's picture

European mobile phone users should see the cost associated with 'texting' other countries on their continent drop by around two-thirds if regulators have their way. The European Commission is to crack down on network carriers which charge 'rip-off' prices when sending a text message (also known as an SMS) to somebody in another country.

According to the European official in charge of telecoms, Viviane Reading, texts from one country to another cost more than 10 times as much as those sent domestically. She says the fees carriers impose are around 32 times the actual costs they incur in transmitting the message.

At the moment, a cross-border text costs an average of 29 euro cents (approximately 46 US cents). If Reading has her way, that would drop to somewhere around 11-15 euro cents. (Source:

It looks like the officials will have to resort to regulation. Back in February, Reading urged carriers to drop the price to 12 euro cents, but only one of the 90 continent-wide firms did so. Network carriers have pointed out that charges are falling from year to year and argue that the free market should determine rates rather than politicians.

The new plan, which is backed by regulators from all 29 European Union countries, follows a similar cap last year on voice calls, which will force a cut of around 60% until 2010. It's likely this will be extended until 2013. (Source:

To impose a similar cap on text messages, Reading's office will need to draft legislation and have it passed by the European Parliament. The government of each member country will then have to incorporate the new regulations into domestic laws.

Cross-border texts are more common than you might imagine in Europe: there are an estimated 25 billion each year. As well as people sending texts home when abroad on holiday, liberal labour laws mean many Europeans move to another country to work, leaving friends and family behind.

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