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EU has rethink over roaming charges

'Fine-tuning' apparently

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The European Commission (EC) has watered down plans to force mobile operators in Europe to slash the cost of using a mobile phone abroad.

The EC had wanted mobile users to be charged the same price for using their phone while abroad as they pay in their country of residence, according to proposals put forward by Commissioner Viviane Reding earlier this year.

Now, it's emerged that this aggressive move, which would have helped cut the cost of using a phone while travelling in the EU, has been dropped because it's too complicated.

Instead, a spokesman for Reding, told Reuters that the EC had made "some fine-tuning changes to the regulation at the wholesale level".

He explained how the new proposals call for wholesale roaming charges for local/national calls are to be capped at twice the average EU mobile termination rate, while wholesale roaming charges for international calls are to be capped at three times the average EU mobile termination rate.

Analysts at Ovum have already been crunching the numbers and according to their figures, it means that wholesale roaming charges for the EU would be capped at around €0.24 a minute, while wholesale roaming charges for international calls will be capped at around €0.36p a minute.

"Reding has sensibly moved away from the home pricing principle," said Ovum which described the previous proposals as "too intrusive and also practically unworkable". And it insists that it is still "good news for consumers" who should save money when using their mobile abroad.

Last month Europe's telecoms regulators supported EC plans to cut roaming charges but said it should be done by cutting the cost of wholesale charges rather than retail prices. In a statement the European Regulators Group (ERG), which includes UK regulator Ofcom, warned that attempting to regulate retail prices could be counter productive for end users. It went on to say that while it "supports the commission's objectives, it has significant reservations about the regulatory mechanisms proposed by the EC". ®

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