EU mobile boss pledges end to roaming costs

THE EU’S top telecoms regulator has pledged to wipe out mobile roaming charges across Europe within a year.

In a speech to the European Parliament yesterday, Neelie Kroes said that she wants to pass a series of reforms that would “deliver a single market” in European telecoms.

Doing away with roaming charges completely would come as a relief to consumers that have been stung by bills from trips abroad, but would be opposed by operators.

Roaming charges make up roughly three to four per cent of mobile operator revenues, although regulation has forced operators to charge much less than they did a few years ago.

In EU states as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, calls made when outside the UK currently cost up to 29p per minute, while texts are up to 9p each.

This is several times cheaper than what rates were just a few years ago, but Kroes said yesterday that she wants to do away with them completely, as well as ensuring what is known as net neutrality – ensuring that operators do not block rival services such as Skype.

“I want you to be able to go back to your constituents and say that you were able to end mobile roaming costs,” she said. “It is my belief that we can deliver such a package – this full, final, package – around Easter 2014.”

Operators are likely to lobby heavily against the plans, claiming that revenue pressure will hit their ability to invest in networks.