EC blasts operators over roaming rates

EC commissioner Neelie Kroes has chastised European operators for failing to do more to reduce roaming rates, and suggested that competition is still not strong enough. 
 
While the EC-mandated roaming rate caps have led to a 60-70% reduction in call and SMS rates since 2005, prices are still barely below the prescribed limits according to a Commission progress report. 
 
The interim report suggests the EC is leaning towards lowering roaming limits rather than abolishing them, when it reviews the rules next year. 
 
“[T]hree years since the rules came in, most operators propose retail prices that hover around the maximum legal caps. More competition on the EU roaming market would provide better choice and even better rates to consumers,” Kroes said.
 
The EC wants to remove nearly every trace of disparity between domestic and inter-EU tariffs by 2015. 
 
It will oversee a further drop in outbound voice rates to €0.39 per minute tomorrow, from €0.43 at present.
 
Wholesale data roaming charges are also due to be cut tomorrow, falling from €1 per megabyte to €0.80, however most carriers already charge around €0.55 per megabyte. 
 
But while this has led to a reduction in consumer tariffs, they remain much higher than the wholesale rates. Operators charge an average of €2.66 per megabyte, down from €2.99 at the beginning of 2009. 

The European Court of Justice last week dismissed a bid by T-Mobile, Orange, Vodafone and Telefonica to overturn the roaming limits, claiming they were needed to prevent subscriber bill shock.  

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