EU to review proposal to cap mobile roaming fees

A key committee of the European Parliament is set to vote on a proposal to cap charges for mobile phone calls made abroad, amid disputes over how to fix the price ceiling, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said the EU parliamentarians remain divided along party lines about whether the EU-wide cap on roaming charges should be automatic or whether customers would only get it from their operator on request.

The report said center-right deputies are in favor of letting consumers who already have a mobile phone subscription decide whether they want to be charged a capped EU-wide roaming tariff or opt to keep their existing packages, which typically have higher roaming fees but lower charges on national calls.

The Associated Press report also quoted Austrian Christian Democrat Paul Ruebig, who is charged with steering the legislation through the EU assembly, as saying that an obligatory price ceiling would disrupt mobile phone companies' delicate pricing structures and lead to massive administrative costs because providers would have to restructure the packages they offer to clients, which could lead to the price of domestic calls rising to compensate for the loss of revenue from roaming.

But the Socialists and the EU's executive office, the European Commission, which drafted the proposal, argue the cap should be automatic and consumers should be able to opt out if their operator offers them a better deal, the report said.

The plan is one of the most lobbied pieces of EU legislation in recent years, it added.