The European Commission (EC) has announced that it has effected a reduction in the cost of data roaming for mobile subscribers travelling within the European Union (EU). The new tariff is expected to be put in place by 1 July this year.

According to the new mobile tariff, mobile subscribers will be charged 20 cents for one MB of data downloaded while on roaming, which is a 55% reduction in data download charges compared to last year when the same amount of data cost 45 cents.

The EU's latest order also compels mobile service providers to offer (to travellers within the EU) various services such as sending text messages at 6 cents (down from 8 cents earlier), outgoing calls at 19 cents per minute (24 cents previously) and incoming calls at 5 cents per minute instead of 7 cents per minute.

With the new EC ruling, from 1 July, travellers will also be offered various customised roaming deals before embarking on their travels, and they will be empowered to choose their desired local service provider in the visiting country (within the EU).

The huge price cut in data roaming charges is a precursor to the EU's "zero roaming charges" policy that the European Commission is working on implementing throughout the region shortly.

This makes it easier for people on the move to effectively stay in touch with their loved ones via emails and social networking. Mobile subscribers who travel frequently to EU countries will get to compare various offers from different local wireless connectivity providers.

The EC is also trying to put into place a 'Connected Continent' regulation which is expected to totally eliminate roaming charges and guarantee travellers an open and neutral internet.

Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission stated, "This huge drop in data roaming prices will make a big difference to all of us this summer. 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 – the Parliament has done their part, now it is up to Member States to seal the deal."