Four European operator giants have failed in their bid to have roaming regulation set back in 2007 overturned. Vodafone, Telefonica O2, T-Mobile and Orange had challenged the legality of the European Union’s regulation, which imposed a substantial reduction in charges on the operators. “The [European] Court [of Justice] has confirmed that the regulation, which sets price caps on the costs of using a mobile phone while in another EU Member State, has a correct legal basis, is proportionate essentially to the objective of protecting consumers against high charges and is justified on grounds of subsidiarity,” noted a European Commission statement this morning.
The regulation initially set a EUR0.49 cap for making calls and EUR0.24 for receiving calls when travelling abroad, with further reductions annually to reach EUR0.35 and EUR0.11 respectively in 2011. It applies to all 27 countries in the EU, as well as Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. The Wall Street Journal notes that before the EU regulation, a call in the EU could cost around EUR1.70 a minute for a German travelling in Austria and EUR2.50 for a Belgian calling from Cyprus, according to European Commission data. Operators fear the cuts will cause them to lose significant revenue, especially as the EU has since forced similar roaming rate cuts for SMS and mobile Internet downloads. Europe’s highest court – the European Court of Justice – considered the operators’ case after it was referred from the UK’s High Court.