PN090307EUB

Embargo: 10:00am Friday 9 March 2007
Contact: Owen Williams 020 7219 8659

LORDS EU COMMITTEE BACK CAP ON WHOLESALE MOBILE ROAMING CHARGES

The House of Lords EU Committee has today written to the European Commission supporting the German Presidency's suggested cap on wholesale roaming charges (the charges between operators) of 30 Euro cents (around 20.5p on current exchange rates) per minute.

A cap at this level combined with the significant competition in the mobile telephone services market and 'a consumer protection tariff' should ensure the costs of roaming charges to customers are significantly reduced, without damaging competition or innovation in the market.

The letter follows an investigation by the Lords EU Sub-Committee on The Internal Market into the Commissions proposed caps on mobile roaming charges. The Committee have been conducting the inquiry since January and are expected to produce a full report in April.

The Committee suggest the EU Commission are right to attempt to tackle this issue as excessive roaming charges act as a barrier to the functioning of the single market both in terms of the actual cost of phone services and more widely by the extra costs they impose on small and medium size businesses attempting to operate across the EU.

Other emerging conclusions reached by the Committee include:

  • There is a lack of data on the true costs to operators of roaming phone calls made by their customers. The reaction of service providers to cut charges ahead of EU regulation suggests roaming charges where higher than necessary but this should be established more fully.

  • There is a strong case for wholesale regulation of roaming charges with the wholesale cap of 30 Eurocents per minute being an appropriate level.

  • They are less convinced about the need for retail regulation arguing that wholesale regulation at the suggested level combined with competition and a consumer protection tariff acting as a safety net will be adequate to protect customers.

  • Any regulation should include a 'sunset clause' to expire in three years time unless it can be shown the market is still not capable of self regulation.

Commenting Lord Freeman, Chairman of the Lords EU Sub-Committee on the Internal Market, said:

"We support the EU Commission's attempts to protect mobile phone users from excessive roaming charges. The German Presidency's suggested wholesale price limit of 30 Eurocents per minute should ensure savings are passed on to customers.

"The fact that so many companies have taken steps to reduce roaming charges once faced with the prospect of EU regulations suggests charges have been excessive in the past.

"We have considered this issue in detail and are hoping to produce our final report soon after Easter."

Notes to Editors

1. The House of Lords EU Sub-Committee on the Internal Market is Chaired by Lord Freeman, for further information or to request an interview with Lord Freeman please contact Owen Williams, Committee Press Officer on 020 7219 8659.

2. Information about the Committee and its inquiry, including the original call for evidence are available at:

http://www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/lords_s_comm_b.cfm

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