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Mobile phone bills cut

FURTHER cuts in EU mobile phone roaming charges came in to force today.

In addition, new rules were activated preventing users inadvertently running up large bills when they connect to the internet with their phones.

Compulsory maximum roaming rates were first imposed on mobile network operators two years ago. The measure was aimed at tackling what then EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding called the "roaming rip-off".

A legal claim by mobile phone companies that the commission was exceeding its powers failed in the European Court of Justice last month.

The court ruled that Brussels was right to "protect consumers against excessive prices, even if it might have negative economic consequences for certain operators".

The action had been brought by Vodafone, Telefonica O2, T-Mobile and Orange.

Roaming charges have fallen by an average of 73pc in the EU since 2005.

Today, the maximum price for making a roaming call within the EU is being cut from the current 43 cent per minute excluding VAT to 39 cent a minute. The cost of receiving a call will now cost a maximum of 15 cent, down from 19 cent.

When abroad in the EU, customers using their mobile phone to connect to the internet cannot be charged more than €50, unless they agree a higher limit in advance.