EC calls in member states to end impasse over roaming, net neutrality – Mobile World Live

EC calls in member states to end impasse over roaming, net neutrality

04 JUN 2015

EU digital chief Guenther Oettinger has invited telecoms ministers to a meeting next week (12 June), as the parties try to end a stalemate over proposed telecoms regulation.

Oettinger (pictured) will use an “informal breakfast” to chew over a possible compromise on roaming and net neutrality with national governments, said Reuters.

The invite also comes from Anrijs Matīss, the Latvian Minister for Transport (Latvia holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union).

A key stumbling block is the date by which roaming charges should cease.

Roaming has become increasingly fraught in recent months. The EU’s other digital chief, Andrus Ansip, attacked governments at the end of March on their roaming position. He described the compromise put forward by them as “a joke”.

The argument over roaming’s end date has caused a dividing line between some Northern and Eastern European states, and those in the South.

Countries, including Poland and Lithuania, are concerned their operators will have to increase domestic prices if roaming charges are removed prematurely, since the same operators will still pay wholesale charges to other operators when their customers travel abroad.

Historically, southern states in the EU have been more in favour of roaming than those in the North because of lucrative roaming traffic generated during the summer by tourists on the beaches of southern Europe.

“We must ensure an early review of wholesale markets’ costs and price caps to avoid those abuses,” said one Polish official, referring to the possibility of so-called permanent roaming, another issue which appears to be causing tension.

Permanent roaming involves people buying a SIM card in a foreign country for use abroad all the time, rather than on a temporary basis as with a conventional roamer.

Permanent roaming is important for some operators in offering M2M services to multinational customers.

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Richard Handford

Richard is the editor of Mobile World Live’s money channel and a contributor to the daily news service. He is an experienced technology and business journalist who previously worked as a freelancer for many publications over the last decade including...

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