European lobby group presses for deeper roaming price cuts

A consumer lobbying group is calling upon the European Parliament to take forceful action against what it labels as "excessive data roaming charges." The group, Europeans for Fair Roaming (EFR), said millions of smartphone users in Europe will continue to be hit with unfair data roaming charges unless Europe's politicians take real action now.

According to a statement released by the group, European Union institutions only have a few weeks to act, or risk European consumers being stuck with high data roaming prices for the next decade. While the EFR accepts that proposed amendments to the new EU roaming regulations are moving in the right direction, the price caps under discussion are still excessively high. What the group urgently wants to see is a much faster alignment of roaming prices with domestic prices.

While the group lists 12 members of the European Parliament who support its objectives, it remains unclear who is behind the EFR, albeit that its website is maintained by the European Federalist Party.

EFR campaign coordinator Bengt Beier said in a statement: "European politicians have long promised us prices for roaming services that are near domestic rates. Now they have to practise what they preach and actually drive prices down. European mobile phone users will not accept anything less."

At the heart of the EFR protest is an apparent desire to create a single European telecoms market. This view is supported by a proposal made by the European Parliament member Angelika Niebler, but even this radical plan does not, according to the EFR, address the massive gap between domestic and roaming data prices.

What the EFR wants to see is the regulated wholesale cap at the end of a three-year glide path being no higher than €0.03 to €0.05 cents per MB by July 2014, with a retail price no higher than three times the rate of wholesale pricing (approximately €0.10 per MB for data by 2014).

For more:
- see this EFR release
- see this Telecom Paper article (sub. req.)

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