Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Proposal to Cut Roaming Fees Advances in European Parliament

The Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) Committee of the European Parliament voted to approve the European Commission's proposal to reduce international mobile roaming charges by 70% starting from this summer. A final vote is expected in the European Parliament by mid-May.

In its proposal, the European Commission seeks to reduce by up to 70% the charges consumers currently have to pay for using their mobile phone abroad. To achieve this, price ceilings are set both at wholesale and at retail level to ensure that mobile roaming charges are not unjustifiably higher than those incurred by domestic mobile phone use. Below these ceilings, competition should take place for the most attractive roaming packages.

The EU Roaming Regulation also aims to enhance price transparency. It obliges mobile service providers to give personalised information on retail roaming charges to their roaming customers -- on request and free of charge. Moreover, a customer subscribing to an operator will be able to receive detailed information on roaming and operators will have to keep the subscriber informed periodically on roaming charges.

EU Telecom Commissioner Viviane Reding commented: "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. I warn against a regulation that would only lead to lower roaming charges for new customers. With mobile phone penetration in the EU now at 103%, practically all EU citizens already have a mobile phone contract. Therefore, such an opt-in clause would deprive most consumers of the beneficial effects of the new EU Regulation."