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EU approves roaming tariffs

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The EU has given the thumbs up to the Euro tariff for mobile phone roaming.

Joachim Wuermeling, speaking on behalf of the German EU Presidency, said legislation should be in place by 29 June.

Commissioner for Information Society and Media Viviane Reding said that she wants to see it even sooner.

The proposal is that wholesale roaming rates (the amount operators charge each other) should be set at €0.30 per minute, but should then decrease by €0.02 every year for the three years of the agreement.

Outgoing calls, when roaming, will be set at €0.49 a minute, incoming at €0.24, with both dropping by €0.03 a year except for the first year when incoming calls will drop by only €0.02.

The GSM Association (GSMA), a trade body representing mobile operators, is unhappy with the decision, and has been fighting the proposal since February.

The GSMA sees self-regulation as the best way to ensure competitive pricing and has been trying to push the tariff as high as possible. It claims its members won't be able to survive if outgoing calls are billed at less than €0.65 a minute.

So, the GSMA's disdain at the introduction of a mandatory €0.49/minute roaming rate is no surprise, but its argument that customers can do better with current offerings from networks falls down, as customers are still able to select those offerings alongside the mandatory Euro tariff.

Arguments that it won't be technically possible for the network operators to implement the Euro tariff might bear more weight, and operators have used this excuse on other occasions.

There is still formal approval by the Telecoms Council to come, on 7 June, but it seems unlikely that will present any barrier, or opportunity for the GSMA to delay or change the proposal. ®

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