Proposals to do away with roaming charges will cause the telecoms market to 'grow and succeed', the European Commissioner's digital chief has said.
Neelie Kroes was speaking today after a vote was passed last week to do away with roaming charges by July 2014. The charges are a lucrative source of income to telecoms companies and their eradication is likely to anger mobile CEOs. The EC argued that by doing away with the charges, consumers will use their mobiles more while overseas.
Arguing for a single telecoms market in a speech today, Kroes said: 'I want to develop quick solutions that build on what we've already achieved, but the end goal must be clear. I know many of us dream of a true, integrated single market. And in such a market, there is no roaming.'
She said the status quo of the mobile market, where operators are seeing revenue decline of around 2% per year, is unsustainable. She said: 'If citizens and companies get higher-quality services and a fairer deal, they will use those services more. Look at the US mobile market: revenues per subscription are nearly double the EU – even though the call cost per minute is over three times lower. Here's my point: we shouldn't be fighting over crumbs: we should be making the pie bigger. And that is exactly what we will do: with fewer barriers, better services, and fairer prices.'
Kroes reiterated proposals for a single market to generate competition but denied she wanted to get rid of national regulators. Her comments should please telecoms companies who are keen to grow through acquisition. She said a refusal to make changes would mean the European market would continue to lag behind that of the United States. She said: 'I want to look at all the barriers our market currently faces. And bring them down. Pragmatically, achievably, and fast. Because our economy cannot afford to wait.'
She said the commission would be speaking to interested parties before chairing any proposals to change the European market.
Author: Graeme Neill