September 24, 2016
Mobile operators, already fuming at European Union plans to cut termination fees, are likely to be sparked into raging fury at proposed legislation to slash the cost of texting whilst abroad.
EU telecoms commissioner, Vivian Reding, wants to see the maximum cost of texts sent whilst roaming capped at €0.11 (£0.09), down almost two thirds from the current average of €0.29.
The proposed cap is lower than what many UK operators charge for domestic texts, with pay-as-you-go users often paying 10-12p per SMS.
Last year Reding forced operators to cut the cost of making calls whilst abroad, and requested that the cost of texting was voluntarily reduced accordingly.
It is believed that this latest legislation has been proposed because of operators’ failure to act upon this request.
Reding is also demanding that operators start charging by the second, to stop customers having to pay a full minute’s fee for calls that last just a few seconds.
Additionally, roaming internet charges are likely to be capped following reports that some users have been running up bills totaling thousands of pounds when accessing the internet on their phone handset whilst abroad.
After Reding’s announcement, mobile operators immediately warned that any income lost from reduced text prices will have to be made up elsewhere – a war cry that is quickly becoming a predictable mantra following any announcement from Reding.
Politicians and consumer watchdogs, however, have welcomed the proposals.
Irish communications minister Eamon Ryan called the legislation a ‘fine example’ of co-operation between EU member states.
Labour MEP Arlene McCarthy said the EU has been left with ‘no option’ than to legislate following the telecoms industry’s failure to voluntarily cut costs for consumers.