EU calls for roaming fees to be slashed

City A.M. Reporter
LARGE roaming fees charged by telecoms operators are “an outdated concept” and the European Union is prepared to take steps to reduce the costs, the bloc’s telecoms chief said yesterday.

Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes, who oversees telecoms and the internet across the 27-country EU, signalled she was prepared to continue to cap lucrative roaming charges that have been a strong source of income for mobile phone companies.

Her predecessor, Viviane Reding, shocked the telecoms industry in 2008 by capping the amount mobile phone companies could charge for calls, sending text messages and downloading data while abroad.

The European Parliament backed the proposals last year.

“The [European] Commission’s review of the Roaming Regulation must look at the source of the problem and potential solutions in their full context,” Kroes said in the text of a speech prepared for delivery at a European Telecommunications Network Operators Association (ETNO) conference.

“The relevant context is the lack of a really competitive single market for all aspects of telecoms services in Europe.”

In her previous job as EU competition commissioner, Kroes imposed fines worth billions of euros on companies that broke EU antitrust rules.

Kroes said a genuine EU single market should be one where price differences between voice, text messages and data were based only on the actual cost of providing these services.

Kroes added: “The exorbitant cost of ‘roaming’ abroad within the EU is an outdated concept.”