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Roaming Charges Drop

  • May 23rd, 2007
  • Posted by EUEditor

roam-phones.jpgRoaming charges on mobile phones being taken across borders within the European Union will be cut down to a modest base rate before the northern summer holidays.

The European Parliament has voted by a large majority (23.5.07) to confirm the legislation of changes, compelling mobile telephone companies to cap the charges at an average around 46 Eurocents (A$0.75; dcerates) per minute.

The change will force reductions of 70%, in some cases more, in charges imposed for cross-border travel — a routine of life in the EU.

It was first proposed last July.

Law-makers said a standard rate was needed in line with binding policy of the EU to operate a single market, and they pointed out that existing charges were well above the domestic level.

There was lobbying and counter-lobbying by industry and consumers as the proposal made its way through the executive European Commission, parliamentary committees and the European Council made up of Ministers from national governments.

The next battle may be over extension of caps to SMS messaging and acessing the Internet from mobile phones, so far not covered by the regulations.

EXECUTIVE RESPONSE

The European Commission said charges for international use of phones had been “exorbitant”, and had resulted in people not using them away from home – 85% of consumers reporting they did not take their phones when on holidays.

That could change this year with the new rates expected to apply from 7.6.07, before the start of the holiday season.

INDUSTRY RESPONSE

Steve Pringle, from the industry body, GSM Europe, said Europe would now have a system of “politicians setting prices”, since the cap was so low it would become a standard fee.

He told the BBC the move would be anti-competitive, as there was no scope below the cap for companies to offer deals.

He said prices for the away-from-home services had been coming down already under market pressure; they had dropped by 25% since 2005.

Reference:

European Commission , “Commission welcomes political agreement to cap mobile roaming charges …”, Brussels, 23.5.07, IP/07/696

BBC World Service television, “World Business Report”, 15.5.07

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