GSMA ‘concerned’ about EU roaming proposals

GSMA ‘concerned’ about EU roaming proposals

The GSMA has repeated its concerns over European Union plans to extend price caps on roaming charges.

The way in which caps on roaming charges are at present regulated is due to expire at the end of June 2012, with the EU currently considering how further regulations might be implemented. The EU’s Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes has made clear that she wants a new regime that continues to strictly control what mobile operators can charge for roaming, at both retail and wholesale levels.

Kroes said she considers that enforced capping, and other structural changes, are the only effective way to maintain competitive pressures on operators in the interests of their customers.

But the GSMA, which represents nearly 800 mobile operators in more than 220 countries, has said it is worried about a possible new wave of caps being introduced.

Martin Whitehead, the director of GSMA Europe, said that while he accepts the EU’s view that stimulating competition is desirable, and is best brought about by a system of caps, the level of capping currently being debated might be counterproductive in bringing about a more dynamic market by having the effect of discouraging new market entrants.

Kroes is known to favour decoupling, which allows customers to switch operators when they are abroad, choosing the best deal in any given country without having to change SIM cards. Such a model, she believes, is the only way for MVNOs to compete satisfactorily with operators that own infrastructure.

The European Competitive Telecommunications Association (ECTA) has said it would prefer to see a simpler roaming regulation model, aimed at reducing charges along more voluntary than compulsory lines.

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