EU may regulate roaming

Europe’s mobile phone industry will continue to fight plans to regulate roaming charges, even though Germany, the European Commission and the European Parliament appear dead set on imposing them, said the GSM Association Tuesday.

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Europe’s mobile phone industry will continue to fight plans to regulate roaming charges, even though Germany, the European Commission and the European Parliament appear dead set on imposing them, said the GSM Association Tuesday.

Germany, Europe’s biggest country, is backing a regulation capping both wholesale and retain roaming prices customers pay for using their mobile phones outside of the country they live in during its six-month presidency of the Union.

It has vowed to push through a roaming regulation by the end of its presidency at the end of June. Countries wanting to avoid retail price caps include the UK and France. Both countries prefer to regulate at the wholesale level – the prices carriers charge each other for roaming calls across different networks.

The GSM Association believes that caps on retail prices can still be avoided. "There is a strong lobby against retail regulations," said David Pringle, the association’s spokesman.

“Most sensible politicians would see retail regulation only as a last resort. Most national markets in Europe have healthy competition with four operators competing for customers,” he added.

The German government wants retail prices capped at €0.49 (32 pence) for outgoing calls and €0.25 (16p) for incoming calls. These limits are very close to the caps the European Commission proposed for a regulation it tabled last year, said Martin Selmayr, the Commission’s spokesman on telecom-related issues.

"The German proposal is almost identical to the Commission’s," he said, adding that Germany’s intervention is "very helpful and should ensure that we have a regulation in place by the summer."

Meanwhile, European parliamentarians attending a hearing in Brussels Tuesday called for additional curbs on the cost to consumers of sending SMS (Short Message Service) messages and data over their mobiles while abroad.

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