By Marcus Leach

The European Commission have proposed new rules that are aimed at reducing the cost of mobile phone roaming.

The proposals include plans to cut out roaming costs when using mobile phones abroad, which extends to payments for receiving calls and text messages, as well as data downloaded.

Lower price caps could be seen by July 2014, by which time it is expected mobile phone users will be able to have separate national and overseas contracts.

Under such plans users would be able to maintain their same phone number when abroad but switch their network coverage to a local, cheaper operator.

The current EU roaming price caps come to an end in June 2012, and there are genuine fears from authorities that if new caps are not put in place prices could rocket again.

"This proposal tackles the root cause of the problem - the lack of competition on roaming markets - by giving customers more choice and by giving alternative operators easier access to the roaming market," Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice President for the Digital Agenda, told the BBC

"It would also immediately bring down prices for data roaming, where operators currently enjoy outrageous profit margins."

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