EU moves to let downloaders roam

Price cap set at $1.50 per MB on data purchased

BRUSSELS -- The cost of downloading movies and music while abroad in Europe will be slashed to a fraction of its current price under new EU proposals unveiled Tuesday.

A wholesale price cap will be set at $1.50 per megabyte for roamed data, compared with an average of as much as $5.90/MB now, under plans submitted by EU telecoms commissioner Viviane Reding.

The move comes after complaints from travelers who were charged thousands of dollars for surfing abroad, including one vacationer who was sent a $64,000 cell phone bill for downloading an episode of "Prison Break" on his laptop while in Portugal.

Under current EU rules, operators can charge extra rates for mobile users who download outside their home country. Prices for data services can range from $0.37/MB for bundled packages, to more than $22/MB. According to the Danish telecoms regulator, the real costs for providing roaming data services is $0.66.

The new measures are expected to be approved by the middle of next year. They come after operators failed to follow Reding's call six months ago to voluntarily lower prices in the summer.