– EU offers deal to carriers: less regulation for no roaming –
On Wednesday, EU telecom commissioner Neelie Kroes presented a package of reforms to the telecom sector that could merge the fragmented European telecom markets into a single market by 2016. Under the new plan, which the EU calls a “carrot-and-stick” approach, operators will be expected to abolish roaming fees and offer plans covering all of Europe. In exchange, they would be freed from having to open their networks to competition. However, the user group “Europeans for Fair Roaming” calls for further price cuts in roaming, to no more than 10ct per min and MB.
In addition, the new proposal foresees other measure to allow carriers to operate across-borders, including easier authorisation, better coordination of network access and spectrum allocation, harmonised consumer rights and unified rules for net neutrality.
In light of the new proposals, the European consumer group “Europeans for Fair Roaming” (www.fairroaming.org) which has successfully lobbied the EU to reduce roaming prices since 2010 is calling on the EU to go further and guarantee low prices for roaming and international calls.
Group co-ordinator Bengt Beier stated: “Consumers have come to rely on the EU on roaming and the EU will have to deliver. We therefore expect that the EU will finally completely abolish roaming charges – and in fact premiums for all cross-border calls. It will only be a single market when consumers pay the same for all calls, SMS and internet use, wherever they are in Europe and do not have to think about borders at all! We repeat our demands we made since 2010: free receiving of calls, lower prices for ALL cross-border calls in the EU and no more than 10ct per minute or MB.”
But the EU must also protect small companies and operators, says Bengt Beier, campaign co-ordinator of Europeans for Fair Roaming: “The current EU roaming regulation promises to open the market to new, specialised roaming operators from 2014 on. Many businesses and investors are already preparing for this now. Any new rules the EU proposes must ensure investor security and must not make small operators unprofitable. Small operators are key drivers for lower prices and innovative services in the telecom business.”
You can read the press release of the European Commission here.