EC to eliminate rip-off roaming rates

Charges 'unjustified' says Reding

The European Commission (EC) is to introduce new regulations that will force mobile operators to make it cheaper for consumers to use their mobile phones while abroad.

Among the proposals outlined today are plans to curb excessively high wholesale prices charged between operators, and guarantees that any cost savings are passed on to consumers.

The commission is also proposing to scrap all roaming charges for receiving calls while travelling abroad in the EU.

The EC also wants mobile users to be charged the same price while abroad as they pay in their country of residence, which should see the cost of calls fall dramatically for most users while travelling in Europe.

"It is high time that the EU's internal market delivered substantially lower communication charges for consumers and business people travelling abroad," said Information Society and Media commissioner Viviane Reding who has championed the roaming charges on behalf of consumers.

Reding challenged the operators' view that roaming charges have fallen in recent years saying they vary from €0.20 to €13.05 for a four-minute call in Europe. And in the in the UK, one unnamed operator has increased the price for roaming from €3.45 to €4.92 when consumers call home from inside the EU.

Mobile operator trade group the GSM Association (GSMA) has already criticised the proposals claiming that any regulation is "unnecessary [and] could do long-term damage" to the industry.

GSMA boss Rob Conway said competition is the best way to meet the needs of customers across the whole range of mobile services. ®

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