1/23/2007 11:05:00 AM
Networks reduce roaming charges
A hearing on the proposed regulation on roaming is taking place in the European Parliament today, adding weight to the pressure on operators to reduce call charges for travellers.
The Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) hearing will be opened by MEP Paul Rubig, and will comprise speeches from Fabio Colasanti of the EC's Directorate General Information Society and Media, Steve Jordan, head of European Regulatory Policy for Telefonica, and Hutchinson MD Christian Salbaing.
Orange told Mobile it was going to introduce more competitive prepay and contract roaming deals. Last year it reduced its roaming costs for customers by up to 25% and offered 'travel talk' bundles for travellers abroad for up to 30 days.
An Orange spokesman said: 'We have already reduced costs for travellers, but we are reducing costs further by the summer. There are lots of people making a lot of noise about this issue, but with wholesale costs as they are, we do what we can to reduce costs for customers.'
O2 launched its 'My Europe' cheap roaming scheme in Spain last year and it plans to extend it across Europe this February.
Last week 3 said it was cutting the price of international roaming on its networks by allowing customers to use their existing bundles when making and receiving calls abroad. The company threw down the gauntlet to other mobile networks to stop customers being 'unfairly penalised'.
'3 Like Home' pricing will automatically apply to UK customers when they are on the 3 networks in Ireland, Italy, Australia, Hong Kong, Austria, Sweden and Denmark. Calls made to UK numbers will come from a customer's inclusive minutes first, then charged at a flat rate of 20p per minute. Calls to international destinations will be charged as if the call is made from the UK. Calls and texts received will be free.
But rival networks downplayed 3's move. An Orange spokesman said 3's deal 'only centres on a small number of countries, compared to the 33 included in Orange's roaming area'.
Vodafone, which currently charges a 75p connection fee for UK calling rates on its Passport scheme, agreed: 'If you look at popular travel destinations, the top ones include France and Spain, and these are not included in 3's offer.'
A spokeswoman said Vodafone had committed itself to reducing roaming charges by 40% by April 2007, but said it was opposed to European regulation on roaming as 'we think Passport could offer people a better deal'.