Mobile roaming set to cheapen

18-07-2006

Mobile roaming set to cheapen
The European Commission is today expected to announce proposals to cap the charges mobile phone users face for making and receiving calls outside of their own country.

EU regulators had originally wanted to scrap the so-called "roaming" charges altogether, amid claims that mobile phone operators were profiting by imposing "excessive" costs on consumers using their handsets across Europe.

But following pressure from the industry, EU media and IT commissioner Viviane Reding is today expected to unveil watered-down proposals placing a cap on wholesale charges, the fees which rival mobile networks pay to one another for processing roamed calls.

A limit will also be placed on prices paid by consumers for making calls on their mobiles abroad, with charges expected to be limited to the wholesale fee, plus a profit margin of up to 30 per cent.

The cost of receiving a call will also be similarly capped to reflect the handling costs of mobile operators.

Reports suggest that the European Commission may also agree to delay the introduction of legislation to fix retail prices if mobile phone operators act to reduce roaming costs in the meantime.

But despite the alleged concessions set to be announced by Ms Reding, mobile phone operators last night remained adamant in their opposition to EU plans to regulate the industry, claiming that legislators are interfering in the market.

Tom Phillips, head of regulatory affairs at the GSM Association, which represents mobile phone companies, said: "There's not much change, just a bit of window-dressing."

"People will say concessions have been made and industry ought to be happy but, frankly, that's not the case."

"There's still a significant element of intervention on retail markets," he added.

Related categories: Management / Business, Telecommunications.


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