Oftel to press European regulators to reduce roaming tariffs

The UK telecommunications regulator is to press other European regulators to ask mobile network operators to cut communications tariffs for roaming between the UK and Europe.

The UK telecommunications regulator is to press other European regulators to ask mobile network operators to cut communications tariffs for roaming between the UK and Europe.

Speaking today in response the publication of European roaming tariffs between April and September last year, Ofcom CEO, Ed Richards, said the cost of sending voice, text and data messages to and from Europe was too high.

Operators charged an average charge of 21 pence per roaming text sent from Europe, but an average of only 5.6 pence per text sent within the UK, he said.

Richards said mobile operators charged for the full first minute of a voice call, even if the call took less time. This amounted to an average 20% overcharge to customers, he said.

He said the average UK price for using data-roaming services within Europe last summer was £4.11 per megabyte. This was just above the European average, but he said this was 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."

Richards said, "My biggest concern is the effect on businesses which increasingly depends on connectivity and in particular mobile connectivity."

He said that there have been some reductions but that he was looking for more. "We intend to take this forward by working with colleagues in the ERG and the European Commission to examine a range of questions on how text and data roaming could be regulated in the future, if the market fails to deliver lower prices."

He said any action from that review was unlikely to benefit consumers before mid-2010. He would ask fellow regulators to uct their national powers to speed up price cuts.

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