Analyst: EU roaming prices have increased up to 164 percent

It is becoming much more expensive for most Europeans to call home when travelling outside the European Union, as operators try to recoup losses related to capped roaming rates in Europe, according to Informa Telecoms and Media.

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It is becoming much more expensive for most Europeans to call home when travelling outside the European Union, as operators try to recoup losses related to capped roaming rates in Europe, according to Informa Telecoms and Media.

A German mobile user has on average seen a massive 164 percent price increase since 2006 for a call home from Africa. Other examples are a 32 percent increase when calling from India to Spain, and the average price of a call from Russia to Italy is up by 25 percent, to €4.58 (US$7.50) a minute.

The Eurotariff regulation, which came into effect on 30 June, 2007, capped roaming prices at €0.49 a minute for calls made within the EU by subscribers of European mobile operators, and has lead to savings for users, but losses running in the hundreds of millions of euros for operators, according to Angela Stainthorpe, analyst at Informa Telecoms and Media.

"As roaming traffic growth hasn't kept up with falling tariffs, operators are looking elsewhere to recoup their losses," said Stainthorpe.

Only 15 percent of Europeans are travelling outside the EU, but the high rates they pay for the privilege have had a significant impact on operators roaming strategy, according to Stainthorpe.

The European Commission, the EU's executive and regulatory body, says it is concerned about the increase in charges, but that it has no legal instrument to regulate calls outside the 27 EU member states, according to a statement.

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