Kroes insists roaming fees will end, despite report to the contrary

Reports abounded this week that the European Union's digital commissioner, Neelie Kroes, had scrapped plans to cut wholesale roaming fees by as much as 90 per cent, but the Commission said the Kroes' package of proposed telecoms reforms will still include the roaming fee cut.

Neelie Kroes

"We are still ending roaming," Kroes' spokesman, Ryan Heath, told FierceWireless:Europe. "We will publish the full plans for the whole package (it's not just roaming) on 11 September."

The reports all stem from a Reuters article published Thursday, which cited a leaked document from the European Commission. The report said the document was the latest draft of Kroes' proposals for a single market, and contrary to earlier drafts did not mention the roaming issue at all.

Reuters said earlier drafts included proposals by Kroes to introduce a cap of 3 euro cents per minute for voice calls starting in July 2014 and through to June 2022, which represents a 70 per cent reduction from the 10-euro-cent cap which came into effect in July. Kroes also wanted to slash the wholesale cap for data to 1.5 cents per megabyte from the current limit of 15 cents, Reuters added.

Reuters suggested that the roaming plan was dropped due to concerns expressed by Europe's major operators, including Orange, Telecom Italia, Telefónica and Deutsche Telekom.

Nonetheless, Heath reiterated during a live video update that plans to end roaming premiums are still very much on the agenda.

"No I can't confirm that," he said when asked to confirm that it's not the aim to get rid of roaming costs. "We still plan to get rid of roaming. It's always been our intention and it's going to remain our intention…You should always have in your mind that it has been our intention since 2010 to eliminate the premiums associated with roaming and that remains our intention."

Heath added that the package of proposals should be adopted by the College of Commissioners during the week of September 10.

"Don't believe everything you read," tweeted Kroes. "Same objective remains - end #roaming premiums! Our plan will be ready to present 11 September."

The "debate is over how to end roaming--not whether to end it," she added.

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this Register article
- see this EC video update

Related Articles:
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EU's Kroes: 774% difference in mobile call prices across the EU
EU's Kroes slams member states over 800 MHz delays
EC's Kroes sees €110B boost from telecoms single market
EU data roaming charges to be cut by 36% on July 1

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