(CN) – Vacationing families and business travelers in the European Union will pay less this summer for mobile services like maps, email and Facebook, thanks to new price caps approved Thursday.
The European Parliament approved sweeping new protections for EU consumers of mobile services, capping data prices initially at 70 Euro cents per megabyte beginning July 1. Next year the price will fall to 45 cents, and it is expected to decline further, to 20 cents per megabyte, by July 2014.
The average business traveler in the EU could save up to ¬ 1000 per year, according to the European Commission, which had endorsed the move prior to Thursday’s approval. A vacationing family can expect to save at least ¬ 200.
Phone calls and text messages will also be cheaper in the EU this summer. The agreement caps the price of a one-minute call at 29 cents, which will fall to 19 cents in 2014. The current cap is 35 cents. The maximum price of a text message will fall from 11 cents to 9 cents this year, and will drop to 6 cents in 2014.
Europeans are expected to spend about ¬ 5 billion on roaming services this year. The new caps mean a total savings of some ¬ 15 billion compared to 2007 prices, according to the commission.
In an effort to spur competition, the agreement also allows EU consumers to purchase their domestic and roaming services from different providers for free, while still using the same phone number.
“By putting price caps on data we have created a roaming market for the smart phone generation,” said Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes in a statement. “More than that, we have ended the rip-offs familiar to anyone who has used a mobile phone while travelling abroad. I am pleased that year after year the European Union is putting money back in the pockets of citizens.”