Call for EU to slash European data roaming costs

The U.K.'s telecoms regulator, Ed Richards, has told a meeting of European regulators that there is a real need to impose harsh cuts to text and data roaming charges across Europe.

To support his call, Richards points to new research claiming that sending a text from one country to another might, when compared to texting within one country, see charges of four-times higher being imposed. The roaming costs associated with mobile Internet access was also criticised, with Richards stating that the cost of sending data was an "even more significant long-term issue" and an "obstacle to business."

"We want to see the industry take the initiative on this issue or we may need to see further action at the European level since national regulators are unable to address these issues unilaterally," said Richards.

While the EU imposed a cap to wholesale roaming charges for voice calls at €0.30 per minute last year, many operators are reported to be charging consumers for a full first minute of a call even if it is actually only 20 or 30 seconds long. On average this means that roaming is 20 per cent more expensive than domestic calls.

As an indication of the EU annoyance at the slow pace of change, the communications commissioner, Viviane Reding, is pushing for a central European regulator to replace national regulators, accusing them of being too cosy with telcos.

For more on this story:
- read Financial Times, The Register and Daily Telegraph