A consortium of businesses, including Three, has demanded that the UK Government lobby for lower data roaming charges, claiming it damages businesses and hurts consumers.
Three CEO Dave Dyson [pictured] has signed an open letter to communications minister Ed Vaizey demanding he fight a forthcoming European Union vote on setting data roaming prices until 2022. The letter, which has also been signed by consumer watchdog Which? and the Federation for Small Businesses, claims that while the proposals will reduce data costs, by 2014 consumers will see a rate of around £400 for 1GB of data. The letter said: 'Data usage on mobile devices is exploding and the Commission’s proposals in their current form do not address the demand for data in 2012, never mind 2022. These pricing levels do not encourage competition and hence could put the brakes on growth and competition in the EU.'
The letter blamed wholesale prices that operators charge one another for data roaming. It said: 'If the maximum amount one operator can charge another at the wholesale level is limited, competition between operators will lead to lower retail prices for consumers.'
Both consumers and businesses will be hit by the data costs. The letter claimed a wholesale cap of more than 10 times domestic retail prices could result in internet access on a mobile phone while abroad costing more than the holiday itself. It said: 'It is prohibitively expensive and, in the worst case scenario, stops firms from doing business abroad entirely.'
The companies, which also include price comparison site uSwitch, the Federation of Communication Services, the Communications Management Association and INTUG, urged Vaizey to back an amendment that would see the wholesale price reduced to less than 10 cents per MB initially and down to five cents after three years.