Lords shows support for roaming price cap

Roaming rip-offs: Lords Committee investigating roaming costs has announced its support for EC price cap proposals

The Lords committee charged with investigating roaming costs has announced its backing for a price cap on mobile calls made from abroad.

The Lords has written to the European Commission supporting the proposal made by the German Presidency for a wholesale price cap of 30 euro cents per minute.

In an interim statement ahead of the formal publication of its findings, the committee said it backed the wholesale cap (the price operators charge each other for roaming calls), but was more sceptical on the question of retail price caps (what operators charge their customers).

The committee instead favours a more self-regulating approach, including competition, wholesale restrictions and a consumer-protection tariff.

The Lords is also backing the idea of a sunset tariff, whereby the regulation will expire within three years unless the industry has shown it can't self-regulate. The sunset clause has been championed by, among others, minister of state for industry and the regions, Margaret Hodge, who gave evidence in front of the sub-committee earlier this month.

Lord Freeman, chairman of the Lords EU Sub-Committee on the Internal Market, said in a statement: "The fact that so many companies have taken steps to reduce roaming charges once faced with the prospect of EU regulations suggests charges have been excessive in the past."

Freeman said the sub-committee's final report into roaming will be due around Easter.

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