EC causes split in mobile camp

vodafone.gifPlans from the European Commission to introduce legislation on SMS and roaming charging have caused a split between mobile operators.

The Commission announced plans to end “roaming rip-offs” for text messages abroad yesterday (July 15). Its research shows that the 2.5 billion text messages sent each year by consumers in the EU cost over 10 times more than domestic texts. The Commission will also seek to put an end to “bill shocks”, which can hit customers using a roaming connection to surf the internet.

Strategy analytics principle analyst, Phil Kendall, says: “If you as an operator are carrying other people’s roaming – such as Vodafone – you make a lot of money.”

Vodafone, which has networks in several EU countries, is against legislating the market. It says: “We believe that the market is best placed, rather than legislation. We are operating a competitive service in a competitive market.”

Meanwhile, 3, which pays operators such as Orange or Vodafone so its customers can use their phones abroad, says it supports the introduction of legislation. It adds: “We believe that bringing prices down will stimulate competition.” The mobile operator says it has seen 27-fold growth in its broadband offering, while its roaming service has “remained stagnant”.

Kendall adds that it is in smaller network operators’ interest to see wholesale rates fall, as the European Commission’s is expected to propose in September. He adds: “People would text a lot more so it is in Hutchinson’s interest to see low wholesale rates.”

The new measures are expected to be presented to the European Parliament and Council by early autumn.

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