EU hits out at mobile roaming rates

12 Jul 2005

The European Commission has warned consumers about the cost of using mobile phones abroad and has targeted the lack of price transparency in the sector.

As the peak holiday season approaches everywhere in Europe, the Commission is warning consumers about the high cost of using their mobiles while abroad.

The Commission has said that international roaming charges have been a concern for some time for both the Commission and international regulators and it is not satisfied that the prices paid by consumers reflects effective competition.

It said it will take measures to enhance transparency of international mobile roaming charges to allow consumers the choice of the best offer.

“Using your mobile phone while on holiday abroad can still lead to very unpleasant surprises,” warns Viviane Reding, the Commissioner for Information Society and Media. “I am convinced that substantially more progress from the industry is both necessary and possible. We need to get to a stage where consumers can benefit from better deals than they are currently getting.”

The prices for calling your home country from abroad vary greatly in the EU, starting at 58 cent per minute (from Cyprus to Finland with a Finnish subscription) and reaching €5.01 per minute (from Malta to Poland with a Polish subscription). This is particularly felt by tourists and business travellers.

To enhance competition on the international mobile roaming markets and increase price transparency for consumers, the Commission will start publishing, from autumn 2005 onwards, a special website listing samples of international roaming retail tariffs of operators in the 25 EU member states.

This Commission initiative will be supported by the national telecom regulators which will co-ordinate action on tariff transparency for international roaming under the auspices of the European Regulators Group. “I welcome this co-ordinated initiative of national regulators, which is proof of the efficient co-operation between national regulators and the European Commission,” said Commissioner Reding.

By John Kennedy