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June 19, 2012

European Commission says Telecoms are ‘ripping off’ consumers

The Digital Agenda team for the European Commission reveals says that consumers are still paying too much for roaming services by Telecoms companies.

By Tineka Smith

Mobile Internet has been growing rapidly amongst consumers and businesses in Europe with 217 million mobile broadband subscriptions.

The European Commission Digital agenda team says that companies are continuing to rip off consumers with high mobile roaming prices.

Consumers currently pay three and a half times as much for roaming calls as they do for national calls.

A solution to outrageous roaming prices was introduced earlier this year by the introduction of a new roaming regulation to extend price caps to data and introduce new competition.

Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice President for the Digital Agenda claimed the new solution would be long lasting.

"Consumers are fed up with being ripped off by high roaming charges. The new roaming deal gives us a long-term structural solution, with lower prices, more choice and a new smart approach for data and Internet browsing," said Kroes in March. "The benefits will be felt in time for the summer break – and by summer 2014, people can shop around for the best deal," she said.

These new rules will see virtual mobile network operators will immediately have the right to access other operators’ networks at regulated wholesale prices in order to provide roaming services to their customers.

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According to Kroes this will boost competition between operators and increase the incentives to offer more attractive roaming prices and services.

From 2014, when consumer’s travel outside the EU, they will also get a warning if their data bills go over £50.

"You can get it switched off — before you rack up an unexpected and unwelcome bill," said Kroes.

Ofcom is also supporting EU Roaming Regulator’s group BEREC’s proposal to extend the measure of a cut off limit, once a consumer’s mobile internet bill reaches £42 within the European Union, to worldwide capability. Ofcom is advising UK mobile providers to introduce worldwide financial caps and alerts on data usage in the mean time.

If the EU decides not to extend its roaming protection worldwide, Ofcom is considering intervening themselves to better protect consumers.

Please follow this author on Twitter @Tineka_S or comment below.

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