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UK Government tried to stop EU roaming cap

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Documents exposed by The Times show that the UK's Labour government worked tirelessly to try and prevent the EU capping mobile phone roaming rates, a move which cost the industry millions.

The documents, consisting largely of emails from civil servants to network operators, show how Britain's chief negotiator reassured BT that the "Fight goes on", and warned Vodafone about the initiative, with regards which he noted: "I assume we want to avoid [this] at all costs!"

The cap on roaming charges was brought in at amazing speed for EU legislation, and was openly fought by the GSMA who painted end-of-the-industry scenarios. But while one expects that from an industry body (indeed, it's their job) one might hope an elected government would spare more thought for the punters paying outrageous roaming rates.

Perhaps an elected government who received £22.5bn from those network operators (for their 3G licenses) might be convinced to throw them a bone or two, but actively lobbying on their behalf is surely something that should be restricted to industry bodies and the like.

The chatty nature of the emails seems to indicate a close working relationship between operators and the government's negotiating committee, with one message to Vodafone reporting that the "UK [are] still not happy bunnies" when the EU said it was going to take a tough line with the operators.

The UK government might not be happy, but the rest of us were pretty pleased with the deal... ®

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