European mobile phone operators is still very weak and customers still get a raw
deal when they cross borders. Operators enjoy outrageous margins, particularly
on data downloads, Neelie Kroes vice-president of the European Commission
responsible for the Digital Agenda, said in a speech in Brussels today.
She said within a
Single Market, there is simply no justification for huge mark-ups, just because
you've crossed an invisible internal border that is supposed to have
disappeared. And just because customers have little or no choice in the matter.
people often pay over €2 per megabyte of data downloaded when roaming, whereas
operators typically charge each other substantially less than 50 cents.
This has got to stop,
"We have already
taken measures to protect the consumer against this and we have 'contained' the
problem through price caps, wholesale and retail," she said. "And
consumers are also better protected from unpleasant 'bill shocks' through the
cut-off limit on data roaming."
The Commission is proposing that by July 2014,
retail caps before VAT would reach:
50 cents per
megabyte of data
24 cents per minute for a call made
10 cents per minute for calls received and
10 cents for a
These retail price
caps would remain in place until 2016 as a safety net. Kroes said by then at the
latest, the structural measures to enhance competition will have delivered
innovative pan-European roaming offers and cheaper prices significantly below
The proposals must be
agreed by Council and European Parliament before they can take effect. "I
look forward to constructive debate with them, with a view to ensuring adoption
of these proposals before the expiry of the current rules in June 2012," the