EU:New mobile “roaming” legislation cut prices and boost competition

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“The situation is disappointing. The high level of voice, SMS and data roaming prices payable by users is a matter of concern. Operators have respected price caps set in the current regulation which will expire in June 2012. However, today’s prices are not those that would prevail in fully competitive markets”, said Angelika Niebler (EPP, DE), the MEP who will steer the new legislation through Parliament.

Ms Niebler backs the two-track approach proposed by the European Commission in July 2011, i.e. to set new caps on retail prices (charged to clients) and wholesale prices (split between operators) as of 1 July 2012 on one hand, and to introduce structural measures to boost competition on the other..

One proposed “structural” solution would be to require operators to offer clients domestic and international roaming services separately, so that they are able to choose a different supplier of roaming services if they so wish,  with effect from July 2014.

The new retail and wholesale price caps proposed by Mrs Niebler go beyond those proposed by the European Commission.

Reducing roaming prices

“Roaming prices are clear evidence that the single market is insufficiently integrated. European consumers are reluctant to use their mobile devices when travelling abroad”, said Monika Štajnarová, of the European Consumers’ Organisation BEUC.

According to Tony Shortall, Director at Telage, a telecoms consultancy, the structural problem is at the wholesale level: wholesale costs are extremely high and must drop significantly. Here to read more.

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