Zack forwarded me a link to a rather interesting BBC News item on how the EU is setting revised caps on text messaging, data roaming, and voice calls while roaming between countries in the EU (this is an added clarification from a reader). As a US wireless carrier subscriber I was a bit surprised to read that government officials are able to set maximum limits wireless carriers in the European Union can charge their subscribers for services. While these are limits, I imagine that carriers will try to secure subscribers by seeing who can get the furthest under this cap while still being profitable.
The cap for a text message falls from about 29 Euro cents on average to 11 Euro cents (14 US cents). The cap for outgoing voice calls falls from 46 to 43 Euro cents per minute while the incoming voice calls cap falls from 22 to 19 Euro cents in July 2009 with a drop to 11 Euro cents by July 2011. The data cap will be set at 1 Euro per megabyte. There are also new caps for data services when traveling abroad as the EU hopes to protect sticker shock from traveling subscribers.
While the caps may appear to be unfair to companies (some would argue that carriers are unfair to subscribers), it may be balanced out by an increase in subscribers or usage with lower unit costs. In the article, it was stated that voice call traffic jumped 30 to 35% after the EU cut the roaming charges by 50-60%.
Since this also applies only to roaming between EU countries there is not as large of a contingent of people that this affects. It is quite helpful for those who do travel between countries in the EU though and does protect them from significant bills upon returning home.
Here in the US the government does not get involved in what wireless carriers charges customers and let's the free market control the fees. It seems to be working as carriers like Sprint have highly competitive unlimited everything plans (voice, data, and text messages) starting at $99/month. While per text message fees are a bit ridiculous from all carriers, the unlimted text messaging plans are quite reasonable, IMHO. I heard something before about other countries charging different fees for calls whether they are incoming or outgoing, but here in the US the per minute call fee is the same for both if you exceed your allotted plan minutes.
While I may not always agree with the policies and like the fees that US wireless carriers charge me each month (I have AT&T and T-Mobile accounts), overall I am pleased with the services that I receive and am quite happy with the unlimited data and text messaging support that I enjoy.