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Europe makes more moves on roaming

The European Council has agreed on a solution to end roaming fees in 2017 while lessening the impact on mobile operators, reports EurActiv. But consumer organisations have warned that operators may hike domestic prices as compensation, it adds. “After the first attempt at creating new legislation ending roaming charges suffered a setback in September, Slovakia, which is chairing the discussions, submitted compromise proposals which the Council adopted on 2 December as the starting point for negotiations with the European Parliament.” The reform must be in place by 15 June 2017 so that roaming fees can be abolished as laid down in last year’s roaming regulation. The draft regulation lays down limits for what operators may charge each other for the use of their networks for roaming services. “With regard to caps for data, the general approach introduces a declining glide path, with the maximum charge starting from €0.01/MB in mid-2017 and dropping gradually to €0.005/MB in mid-2021. Diminishing caps reflect the expectation that the cost of providing wholesale roaming services will fall in the coming years.” The wholesale price cap for data is a crucial element in this review. For phone calls, the maximum surcharge would be €0.0353/min, and for text messages, €0.01 per message. “The general approach includes a new mechanism at wholesale level to ensure sustainability in exceptional circumstances. If operators are not able to recover their costs, they may ask their national regulator for permission to apply a surcharge on top of the caps. However, even when applying an exceptional surcharge, the total wholesale charge for data cannot exceed €0.0085/MB.” Monique Goyens, director general of BEUC, the consumer organisation, called the member states’ handling of the wholesale roaming reform “playing with fire”. “In their effort to please their national telecoms players they risk scuppering the long-promised end of roaming fees in June 2017”, she stated. She further argued that consumers should not have to pay higher phone bills just because they move across a border, neither should they face the risk of higher domestic prices because their governments decided against bringing down high wholesale charges. More here

  • Monday, 12 December 2016

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