EU to impose heavy cuts to SMS roaming charges

European mobile operators are expecting the worst when the EU's Telecoms Commissioner, Viviane Reding, announces plans (scheduled for 15th July) for tighter regulation of SMS roaming tariffs. While no specific price caps are anticipated in this first recommendation, Reding has previously mentioned a figure of €0.12 per text, although a study by the Danish government has stated that a price nearer €0.04 should be the target. Brussels insiders believe the proposal is likely to seek a price cap between these two figures. The average SMS roaming tariff today is around €0.30 per text message.

Most national telecoms regulators have accepted that price caps need to be refined, and talk has centred on a 'Eurotariff' of between €0.11 to €0.15 per text which, they claim, allows for full recovery of costs and gives mobile operators a reasonable return. The GSMA, the mobile operator trade association, claims that the majority of European operators have already reduced their SMS roaming charges, either through a reduction of their standard SMS rates or the launch of specialised packages aimed at roamers. According to the industry body, text message pricing had dropped at an annual rate of 18 per cent in April, while the cost of mobile Internet had fallen 25 per cent.

Industry experts estimate that roaming fees generate five per cent to 20 per cent of the SMS sales of most mobile operators.

For more on this story:
- go to the International Herald Tribune and Unstrung

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