Roaming debate to come to crunch

The EU’s 27 telecom ministers will gather at the CeBit IT fair in Hannover, Germany on Thursday for an informal EU Telecom Council, expected to pave the way for an early adoption of EU roaming regulation.

The European Commission seeks to reduce roaming charges by up to 70 per cent and has recommended price ceilings at both wholesale and at retail level to ensure that mobile roaming charges are not unjustifiably higher than those incurred by domestic mobile phone use.

With a summer 2007 deadline set for the introduction of roaming regulation, the EC maintains that there is broad agreement both on the objectives of the regulation among the Commission, Parliament and Council and on its general architecture, not to mention strong consumer support.

The discussion now is centring on different ways in which the objectives can be achieved through the regulation and on the level of the price caps.

“Every effort should be made to successfully conclude the legislative process on the reduction of roaming tariffs by the end of the first half of 2007,” said Viviane Reding, commissioner for information society and media.

“A political agreement on an ambitious reduction of roaming tariffs by summer is now within reach. I call on all Ministers and Parliamentarians currently working on the Roaming Regulation proposed by the European Commission last July to listen more to consumers and less to the industry lobbyists. All citizens in the EU should be able to judge in July how effective the work of their ministers and their Parliamentarians has been,” she said.

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