GSMA says Kroes’ roaming comments “unfortunate”

The chief government and regulatory affairs officer of GSMA, Tom Phillips, has responded to last week’s speech from Neelie Kroes, in which the European commissioner for the digital agenda called for the creation of a single European telecoms market by describing her comments as “unfortunate”.

Kroes delivered an emotionally charged speech in which she spoke of the importance of addressing issues including net neutrality and cyber crime and said that a single European telecoms market would have economic and social benefits for a range of social and demographic groups. But her emphasis on roaming, including a call to “end mobile roaming costs”, was not what GSMA wanted to hear.

Picking up where her predecessor Viviane Reding left off, Kroes has led sustained attacks on European roaming charges—retail and wholesale—with considerable success. “Everyone loves the benefits of EU price cuts to roaming. It is the one thing even Eurocritics agree the EU did well,” Kroes said last week. “On one hand my portfolio is the source of this incredibly popular EU policy… but on the other hand we struggle to push other telecoms and digital issues to the top of the political agenda. A strong single market package is the way to change that.”

GSMA has always opposed European roaming legislation, but it is sympathetic to the notion of a single European telecoms market. Last week the organisation released a report in which it warned that the European market has lost its competitive edge and is now, according to director general Anne Bouverot, “significantly underperforming other advanced economies, including the United States.”

The report, produced by Navigant Economics, concluded that regulation should look to facilitate investment, speed up spectrum release and harmonisation, enable market-led consolidation, establish a light-touch pan-European regulatory regime and work to attract investment into the region.

In a statement released Monday, Tom Phillips urged Kroes to take its findings on board. “The GSMA encourages the Commissioner to keep her focus on the big picture and to make bold and long-term recommendations. In this regard, it is unfortunate that the Commissioner should have used her recent platform with parliament to talk about roaming… The Commissioner should immediately clarify her intentions with regard to roaming, to avoid the industry investing in a roaming solution that has been superseded before it is launched,” he said.

Ms Neelie Kroes, vice-president responsible for digital agenda, European Commission, is delivering a keynote speech at the Broadband World Forum, taking place on the 22nd – 24th October 2013 at the RAI Exhibition and Convention Centre, Amsterdam. Click here to pre-register for the event.

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One comment

  1. Avatar Ryan Heath 03/06/2013 @ 5:41 pm

    Mobile operators themselves admit to us that they were wrong on roaming and that it caused them to develop negative relationships with their customers.
    Since roaming price caps were introduced, the roaming market has grown by 630%. Since data price caps were introduced in 2013, some companies grew their data roaming turnover by 1500%.
    It is not credible to say that EU roaming regulation has hurt companies. And it is disingenous for anyone to think that our single market package will not also be net beneficial to mobile companies.
    So people should read the whole Neelie Kroes speech where all of this is outlined in black and white.

    And then they should calm down.
    If operators want a single market they need to accept the reality that there is no such thing as roaming charges in a single market. A single market isn’t a self-serve buffet – it’s a package and you have to take all of it or none of it.
    Ryan Heath
    Spokesperson for Neelie Kroes

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