EC expected to enforce SMS-roaming price cuts

Informa Telecoms & Media says operators have failed to voluntarily reduce the cost of SMS roaming in line with an EC deadline of 1 July

European mobile operators should brace themselves for enforced price cuts for SMS roaming, analysts have predicted.

Yesterday was the 1 July deadline set by European telecoms commissioner Viviane Reding for the mobile industry to voluntarily reduce the price of data roaming and sending text messages when abroad in the EU.

While operators have made some moves to reduce the costs of data roaming, they have failed to make voluntary price cuts for text messages, according to analyst Informa Telecoms & Media.

Despite what Informa dubbed a "last-minute flurry of tariff changes" from operators, it said in a research report that text prices for EU roamers are up to 75 percent higher than in 2006.

By comparison, data-roaming costs fell 20 percent on average over the same period. The analyst said the downward trend for data is continuing as more operators launch bundled and day-rate packages.

Angela Stainthorpe, research analyst and author of the Global Mobile Roaming: Operator Strategies and Market Trends report, said in a statement: "Considering the impetus behind the voice legislation introduced last year, SMS roaming is without doubt a strong candidate for another round of regulation."

Stainthorpe said operators have decided cutting SMS roaming rates is not in their short-term financial interest as it generates sizeable revenues. However, it is early days for mobile broadband roaming, by contrast, and operators need to cut prices to drive usage.

The analyst predicted non-messaging data-roaming revenues within the EU will more than double between 2008 and 2013, reaching €1.1bn (£879m) by the end of the period.


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