Ofcom boss Ed Richards has threatened operators with EU and Ofcom intervention unless roaming charges are reduced.
Speaking at the Ofcom annual plan stakeholder meeting today, Richards spoke of his concern at the costs incurred by UK users who send texts, make calls and use data while abroad in Europe.
He said: ‘The cost of sending a text from abroad looks high: an average charge of 21p per roaming text sent from Europe compared to an average of 5.6p per text sent within the UK, but with very low associated marginal cost.’
Richards also said ‘a significant longer term issue’ was the price charged by UK operators for data roaming, at an average of £4.11 per Mb, which he felt had a detrimental effect on businesses.
‘These prices represent a significant price hurdle to the use of mobile internet while abroad. We want to see industry take the initiative on this issue or we may need to see further action at the European level since national regulators are unable to address these issues unilaterally.’
And he labelled operators’ propensity to charge customers for a full minute even if a call lasts 20 seconds ‘a hidden charge’. Richards said that European Commission action to rectify the situation by 2010 will be too long to wait.
‘As a result, we will be looking to see whether we have any scope under our national powers to take action well before that,’ he added.