More European mobile operators should offer free international roaming, according to European Commission vice president Neelie Kroes. She spoke out on the subject as new rules on European data roaming charges come into force.
From today, data charges fall by at least 50% compared to last year. Kroes has worked on the enforcement of reductions in voice and data roaming charges across the European Union since 2010. She now hopes to see roaming charges abolished completely by late 2015. Kroes said she will work on gaining the support of national telecommunications ministers for the proposal this year.
She said: ‘In 2014 we can finally say that the telco sector is getting the message about roaming.’ Many telecoms companies are now introducing plans and pricing below the price ceiling set by the Commission, she explained.
In six EU member states customers now have the option of choosing mobile phone plans where roaming fees have been abolished, she said, but she believes this is not enough. ‘It is still ridiculous in my opinion that companies in the U.S. give their customers free roaming to more than 100 countries including the EU, but European customers are still not enjoying the same opportunity.’ US operator T-Mobile now offers free data roaming in over 100 countries for customers on a Simple Choice Plan.
Now it is up to national governments to support what the ‘overwhelming majority of Europeans want’ - a 100% end to roaming fees. Cutting roaming prices will lead travellers to make more use of mobile phones when abroad; resulting in more revenue for operators than before the roaming price caps were introduced, said Kroes.
‘Roaming is only a small part of operator's incomes and income generated through roaming has so far not been used for investments.’