EC reduces roaming charges further

With the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in full swing the European Commission has gone head to head with mobile operators in a bid to further cut roaming charges.

The European Commission agreed to another round of charge cuts on Tuesday, which will come into effect this summer. Since 2007 the gap between domestic and “roaming” call charges has fallen by about 75 percent as a result of EC intervention and will drop further thanks to yesterday’s decision. Five years ago mobile operators were making profits of more than 200 percent for mobile calls made in different EU countries leading the European Commission to call it the “roaming rip-off.”

According to UK MEP Peter Skinner there is no need for phone companies to have any roaming charges at all. “Phone companies are still using international travel as a way of ripping off customers: airwaves know no international borders, so it’s crazy for customers to pay lots for a phone call from Dover to Calais 21 miles away, while Dover to the Shetlands, hundreds of miles off the coast of Scotland, costs much less,” he explained.

In retaliation to Tuesday’s move by the EC, Vodafone’s chief executive Vittorio Colao warned that if the EU continued to impose price cuts mobile operators would cut investment in networks. Speaking at the Mobile World Congress, Colao said: “We should stop having continuous intervention on prices and let the industry reinvest the money.” But Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes said that if customers lost the fear to use smartphones and tablets when travelling across Europe everyone would benefit, including the mobile operators. She has vowed to reduce the gap between domestic and roaming call charges to almost nothing by 2015.

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