‘We need to scrap mobile roaming fees’

Brussels is demanding that Europe's mobile phone operators scrap roaming fees on the continent within a year.

'We need to scrap mobile roaming fees'
Brussels is eying the creation of a true single market for telecommunications. File photo: Garry Knight

Speaking at the European Parliament on Thursday, European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes pleaded for an end to mobile roaming fees within the European Union.

The scrapping of mobile roaming fees within Europe would be great news for the millions of Spanish residents who regularly travel for work and pleasure.

In 2011, Spain's mobile phone companies notched up roaming revenue of over €700 million, according to the national telecommunications agency the CMT. 

"There is no other sector of our incomplete European single market where the barriers are so unneeded, and yet so high." said Kroes during her speech.

Kroes wants "pan-European operators helping consumers take advantage of a borderless market" as well as "increased investment in quality networks and content".

"It is my belief that we can deliver such a package — this full, final, package — around Easter 2014," Kroes told the European parliament.

"Whether they need it for travel, for trade, or for transactions – our people need this reform," she said.

In her speech, Kroes also admitted it was difficult "to push other telecoms and digital issues to the top of the political agenda" but argued "a strong single market package is the way to change that".

"Telecoms touches everything and users are developing massive expectations of it," added Kroes.

"Markets must function, devices must function, networks must function and investment needs to happen. We can't afford today's countless, needless, artificial obstacles placed in the way."

In 2012, the European Union capped mobile phone rates and required mobile phone operators to "decouple" their domestic and roaming price plans, moves which Kroes said had been very popular.

The new rules saw the average pre-tax price of mobile phones via Spain's mobile operators fall from 35 cents to 29 cents, reported business site lainformación.

From July 1st, that price will be 24 cents and from 2014, the price will be 19 cents. 

Spain's telecommunications sector was worth €37.95 billion in 2011, the last year for which figures are available according to the Ministry for Industry, Energy and Tourism. Some 43 percent of that is revenue from mobile telephony.

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