A few black sheep mire EU mobile roaming progress


3 Aug 2007

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While most mobile operators have complied with the EU’s deadline of 30 July to instigate the new Eurotariff for EU-wide roaming, a number of operators in Belgium, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia and Finland have violated the EU roaming regulations.

While most mobile operators have complied with the EU’s deadline of 30 July to instigate the new Eurotariff for EU-wide roaming, a number of operators in Belgium, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia and Finland have violated the EU roaming regulations.

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However, says EU telecoms commissioner Viviane Reding, these operators are in the minority.

The new EU roaming regulation reduces roaming charges by up to 70pc and the rate came into being one month after the regulation was passed in the European Parliament.

The commission has noted that many operators offered the Eurotariff at the start of July, while others waited until just before the 30 July deadline.

Some operators are also offering prices below the EU cap or new roaming packages.

Reding said she believes that despite some not-so-transparent offers in the marketplace, the implementation of the new regulation appears to be proceeding slowly.

“Just one month after the new EU rules on mobile roaming charges came into force, around 50pc of consumers in Europe are already profiting from substantially reduced tariffs,” Reding said.

“I welcome in particular that many operators offered the new Eurotariff as the holiday season began, and that some even went substantially below the regulation’s price ceilings.

“Only in a few cases – the exception rather than the rule – we note attempts to delay the effects of the regulation by non-transparent or possibly even anti-competitive behaviour.

“These will have to be analysed very carefully by national and European regulators. If we find evidence for behaviour that violates the law, the EU Roaming Regulation foresees sanctions which could be complemented by the full force of competition law.”

In terms of the “black sheep”, an operator in Cyprus said it would be offering a Eurotariff only on 30 August, while in Belgium an operator sent in the last days of July an SMS to customers saying they would be automatically switched to Eurotariff on 30 September.

In all, 74 operators out of 95 from all around Europe responded to the commission’s questionnaire on the matter.

The Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) said Irish mobile companies automatically committed to applying the new rates from the end of August.

It added that all the operators have informed their customers of the new rates and provided detailed information on their websites.

The final prices (including Vat) Irish consumers will pay from the end of August are: 3 Ireland, 39 cent to make a call and 19 cent to receive a call; Meteor, 59 cent to make a call and 29 cent to receive a call, O2 Ireland, 59 cent to make a call and 29 cent to receive a call; and Vodafone, 59 cent to make a call and 29 cent to receive a call.

By John Kennedy

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