Vodafone customers who need to make frequent trips abroad can now talk for longer over a reduced roaming tariff.

The move is in anticipation of the European Information Society Commissioner, Viviane Reding’s plans for price cuts on all European mobile phone roaming charges.

Vodafone’s average roaming costs will fall by at least 40 percent – from over 0.90 euros to less than 0.55 euros per minute – by April 2007. The company claims this will benefit over 30 million of their Europe-trotting customers.

However, the reduced tariffs will still be no match for the emerging trend where users opt to make voice calls over a wireless Internet connection. "We would lose some revenue over the margin. But what this (lowered roaming tariff) is about is convenience," admitted a Vodafone spokesman.

The company has also announced that from October 2006, it will enter into reciprocal wholesale agreements with any other European operator at 0.45 euros a minute, for voice calls within the EU. This will enable both Vodafone and other European mobile operators to continue to lower the cost of roaming to customers outside of their own networks.

Vodafone already has subsidiary companies in 11 of the EU's 25 member states.

Meanwhile, average businesses may yet have to wait and watch. How much they can save with the new lowered roaming tariff will depend on the overall commitment of the 40 percent cuts between 2006 and 2007, the Vodafone spokesman said.

Till then, travellers can always depend on the humble cybercafé down the road.