The Financial Times of March 19, 2006:
European telecoms companies are divided over their response to threatened legal action that would force them to cut the cost of international mobile telephone use.Apart from holiday-makers, mainly during summer, this roaming add-on charge is particularly onerous for inhabitants of smaller countries - they will be more often out of reach of their home company. In my case, being a client of Belgacom, I only need to travel a 100 Kms to the North or to the South, to incur double or triple charges, not only for my own calls, but also for the calls I receive from inncocent people, like my garagist, my doctor or my daughter.
The disagreement comes as the European Commission prepares to publish details next week of proposed legislation to cut lucrative international “roaming” charges paid by mobile phone owners.
International roaming is the add-on charge customers pay to use another company’s network and analysts estimate it accounts for 10-15 per cent of mobile operators’ profits.
To make things still worse: Belgacom is integrated into the Vodafone system of national networks, which is the only one that covers nearly all of Europe. Vodafone sister-companies give me a slight rebate, but I am still paying much too much, for, technically, the automatic exchange between national Vodafone networks costs not more than the exchange of information within a national network.
The good news is, that there are apparently some important networks in Europe, who are ready to accept an agreement with the European Commission to scale down their extra roaming charges, and the bad news is, that there are others, wo do not. This may mean, that roaming regulations have to be imposed by European regulation. And that is going to take some more time.
Some more consumer action on this and on other non-exploited issues that have come within our reach within the EU, is really overdue!