EC Warns Mobile Firms on Roaming Fees

Brussels prods noncompliant wireless carriers to offer customers the new "euro-tariff," which promises to slash roaming costs

The European Commission will at the end of this week name and shame mobile phone operators that have failed to comply with Monday's deadline on new EU rules for roaming charges.

"All roaming customers in the European Union have to be given the opportunity by July 30 to opt deliberately for the new euro-tariff," said commission spokesman Martin Selmayr at a press briefing in Brussels on Monday (30 July).

Companies that fail to offer the option will be "in breach of the regulation," he added.

Under the new law, operators had to offer - by the July deadline - consumers the choice of staying with existing fees or shifting to the new euro-tariff that promises to slash up to 70 percent of the cost of calls abroad within the 27-member bloc by the end of this summer.

"If a customer hasn't received the euro-tariff by today [Monday]...he can go to a national court," Mr Selmayr said.

After two months, all mobile phone users who have not expressed a preference will then be switched to the new EU tariff.

Name and shame

The commission is preparing a ‘name and shame' list of the mobile phone operators and their tariffs, to show which companies have failed to offer the new roaming fees.

"That said, let me say from our first impressions, many, many operators, as we would expect them to do, have obeyed the law," Mr Selmayr stated. "The number of black sheep will be very limited," he added.

The price cap in the first year will be set at €0.49 per minute for making mobile phone calls abroad, while receiving a call when abroad will cost €0.24 in the first year, plus value-added tax.

By 2009, the price ceilings will fall over time to €0.43 for outgoing calls when abroad and €0.19 for incoming calls. The regulation will then lapse, unless the EU extends it.

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