Roaming vote due Thursday

James Middleton

April 11, 2007

2 Min Read
Roaming vote due Thursday

On Thursday morning, the European Parliament’s Industry, Research and Energy Committee (ITRE) will vote on the European Commission’s proposal to reduce international mobile roaming charges by as much as 70 per cent.

Although not the final say in the matter, the ITRE’s stance is likely to be a good signifier of how the final text to be adopted by the European Parliament this summer will look.

Ahead of the meeting, EU commissioner for information society, Viviane Reding, said “A political agreement on lower roaming tariffs is now within reach. In this important phase of the legislative procedure, it is of crucial importance to ensure that all consumers in the EU will be able to benefit from lower roaming charges, and that no one is left behind.”

Reding warned against an “opt in” regulation that would only lead to lower roaming charges for new customers. With mobile phone penetration in the EU now at 103 per cent, practically all EU citizens already have a mobile phone contract already.

But the GSM Association (GSMA) hit out at the proposals, calling on the European Parliament to consider “the serious harm” roaming regulations would have on the industry.

The GSMA fears that retail price caps would give operators “no scope to compete and force them to apply tariffs that are below costs”.

“At a time when Europe is trying to stimulate investment and innovation, these inappropriate and inconsistent proposals are becoming increasingly removed from the economic realities of the mobile market,” said Rob Conway, CEO of the GSMA.

The industry body is also concerned that the Parliament could disregard independent advice because of political pressure, stating that a EC commissioned Copenhagen Economics report on roaming, suggested raising the level of the caps for receiving calls to at least Eur0.33 a minute, compared with the original Commission proposals of Eur0.17 a minute.

The GSMA maintains that competition has already led European roaming prices to fall 25 per cent since 2005.

About the Author(s)

James Middleton

James Middleton is managing editor of | Follow him @telecomsjames

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