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Roaming cuts deadline looms

European mobile operators have until Tuesday to reduce tariffs for calls made and received while roaming by as much as 70 per cent.

When European lawmakers voted to introduce caps on mobile roaming charges in Europe in May, operators were given until the end of July to implement the cuts across the board.

According to the legislation the maximum retail charge, excluding VAT, for regulated roaming calls will be capped at Eur0.49 per minute for outgoing calls and Eur0.24 per minute for incoming calls.

The cap for outgoing calls will also decrease automatically by Eur0.03 per year over the following two years, while the cap for incoming calls will decrease by Eur0.02 after the first year and Eur0.03 after the second year.

Under the plans, subscribers will, or should have already, received a text message telling them how much they will have to pay when travelling abroad, while an opt-in clause will ensure that customers who have already chosen alternative roaming packages are not moved onto the Eurotariff automatically.

Consumers have a further two months to decide whether to move to the Eurotariff or opt for an alternative rate. All consumers who are not on a roaming package by then will automatically be moved onto the Eurotariff.

Arun Sarin, chief executive of Vodafone, claims that the Vodafone Passport tariff, “which already offers a better deal than the Eurotariff,” has attracted over 12 million customers.

But EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding maintains that while some operators offer roaming packages, they are not widely taken up. “Lack of consumer awareness, complexity and often the need to subscribe to such packages can all be reasons for the low subscriber numbers,” she said.

According to last November’s Eurobarometer survey on roaming, 15 per cent of mobile users either do not to take their phones on holiday at all or switch them off and 21 per cent only send text messages abroad. “When asked why they do not use their phone abroad, 81 per cent said the high costs were the biggest deterrent. However, 59 per cent would use their phones more when abroad if charges were lower,” said Reding.

The price of SMS messages and data charges are not affected by the Eurotariff legislation.

Informa Telecoms & Media’s Mobile Roaming Europe conference will take place in Vienna, Austria from 29-31 October 2007. Read more about the Mobile Roaming Europe Conference.


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