EU Could Abandon Plans For Further Roaming Price Cuts

EU digital Commissioner Neelie Kroes could abandon plans for another round of mobile roaming charge cuts, following pressure from the telecoms industry.

According to Reuters, the latest draft of the proposals which will be presented by Kroes to the EU parliament in September dos not mention the roaming issue, something the previous draft dealt with extensively.

The roaming charges were already reduced on 1 July, with call prices cut from €0.29 to €0.24 per minute, texts from €0.09 to €0.08 and per-megabyte data charges down 36 percent, from €0.70 to €0.40.

New caps were expected to go into force in July 2014. Previously, Kroes suggested that roaming charges in Europe could eventually disappear altogether.

The fall of the roaming empire?

For over a decade, mobile operators have been criticised for charging very high fees for international calls, which cost no more to provide than national calls. Since 2010, Kroes has been working to cap the fees mobile operators pay to access competitor’s networks while their customers are abroad.

The move was a part of a bid to break down barriers, and unlock the potential of mobility and digital culture in Europe through a single telecommunications market.

However, now it looks like roaming charge cuts will not continue. The previous draft of the proposals seen by Reuters included a cap of three cents per minute on calls, and 1.5 cents per megabyte for data. The new draft doesn’t mention price caps at all.

People familiar with the situation told Reuters that representatives of several European telecoms companies, including Orange and Telefonica, met Kroes last month to discuss the impact of her proposals.

“We’ve made several technical improvements over the summer that will help us reach our ongoing objective of a real telecoms single market,” commented Ryan Heath, a spokesman for the Commissioner.

If the rumours are true, this wouldn’t be the first time European Commission has gone back on its words. Earlier this year, Kroes made a U-turn on the plans to include provisions for Net Neutrality as part of EU legislation. Net Neutrality would ensure that all online data is treated equally and ISPs are not discriminating or charging differently depending on the user, content, site, platform or application. This would essentially outlaw all broadband throttling policies.

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Max Smolaks

Max 'Beast from the East' Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope. If you find him looking lost on the streets of London, feed him coffee and sugar.

View Comments

  • It's sad that people just seem to believe and reprint the last thing they read these days.
    Wholesale roaming charges will come down by a minimum of 67% in 2014. We are still including other provisions to end roaming.
    Net neutrality is still in the draft regulation. It was never out.
    People just need to chill out.

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