European mobile operators have raised the price of roaming calls into the European Union by as much as 163 per cent as they seek to offset losses from reduced charges within Europe.

The introduction of the Eurotariff in June, and its enforcement in September, capped European roaming charges at 49 eurocents per minute for calls made abroad and 24 eurocents for calls received abroad, excluding VAT, hitting operator revenues hard.

As a result, analysts at parent, Informa Telecoms & Media, reveal that operators have jacked up their roaming charges outside Europe to make up the shortfall.

European regulators have no legislative powers to regulate the cost of roaming outside their own territories, but they say they are well aware of the situation and are considering ways of remedying it.

Informa said its analysis was based on the percentage change in aggregated roaming prices on a country by country basis between 2006 and 2008.

For example, the average price of a call home to Italy made by a subscriber roaming in Russia was Eur3.67 (excluding VAT) per minute in 2006 but had risen 25 per cent to Eur4.58 since the Eurotariff came into play.

A German mobile user outside the EU has seen a massive 163.7 per cent price increase since 2006 for a call home from Africa.

Informa analyst Angela Stainthorpe said that since the EU roaming regulation came into force, operators have reported roaming revenue declines into the hundreds of millions of Euros. “As roaming traffic growth hasn’t kept up with falling tariffs, operators are looking elsewhere to recoup their losses.

“Although only 15 per cent of EU roamers are travelling outside the EU, the high per minute rates they pay for the privilege have had a significant impact on roaming strategy. In some cases, countries that were once relatively unimportant to EU operators have now been elevated to prime position purely as a result of their contribution to roaming revenues.”

The EC said it is concerned about the price hikes but is powerless to legislate outside its domain. Meanwhile, UK regulator Ofcom is working with the European Regulator Group (ERG), which represents regulators both within and without the EU, to “monitor the situation”.

The findings, extracted from a forthcoming Informa report, ‘Global Mobile Roaming, Forecasts 2008-2013’, were first reported in the Global Mobile research service.