Ed Vaizey urged to fight new EU mobile roaming charges

Mobile networks

Ed Vaizey urged to fight new EU mobile roaming charges

Warwick Ashford

A group comprising a UK mobile operator, consumer groups, trade bodies and industry associations is calling on UK communications minister Ed Vaizey to fight planned EU mobile roaming charges.

An open letter from the group urges Vaizey to use his vote at a meeting of EU communications ministers to push for deeper cost cuts to bring roaming charges more in line with UK tariffs.

The group points out that although the European Commission’s "Roaming III" proposals due to be voted on will reduce the cost of data year-on-year, but by 2014 they will still see a rate tantamount to £400 for 1GB of mobile data, compared with UK domestic prices of less than £10.

The vote will determine how much consumers pay for accessing mobile services when they are abroad until 2022.

"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 group said.

According to the letter, the issue affects consumers and businesses alike, with small businesses, in particular, feeling the effects of the cost of downloading data.

In worst case scenarios, the cost of mobile roaming could stop some firms from doing business abroad, the group said.

MEPs, who have tabled amendments that suggest reductions to less than €0.10 down to €0.05 per megabyte or £50 for 1GB, will vote on 28 February. Ministers' representatives will vote the next day.

"We urge you to use your vote in the European Council to support an even greater reduction in data prices for people and businesses travelling abroad," the letter to Vaizey concludes.

The open letter is signed by representatives of UK mobile operator Three, price comparison site uSwitch, consumer organisation Which?, the Federation for Small Businesses, the Federation of Communication Services, the Communications Management Association, and the International Telecommunications Users Group.

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