Mobile industry defends roaming pricing

Roaming Rip-Offs: As the EU prepares to pronounce on mobile roaming charges, the GSMA claims pricing is reasonable

The body that represents the interests of mobile operators has launched a pre-emptive strike ahead of an expected announcement from the European Commission this week on plans to tackle excessive roaming charges.

The GSM Association released a statement on Monday claiming that as mobile operators offer roaming services as part of a package of inter-related services, this represents "very good value for consumers".

"Further roaming regulation is unnecessary and could have unforeseen consequences," said Rob Conway, chief executive and member of the board of the GSMA. "While we believe that competition is the best way to meet the needs of customers across the whole range of mobile services, the GSMA membership will continually explore ways in which further industry action might address particular concerns of customers and other stakeholders."

The GSMA claims that overall retail prices for mobile voice services across Europe (including both roaming and domestic services) have fallen at an average of 5 percent per annum over the past four years.

Viviane Reding, EC information society and media commissioner, is expected to publish plans on Tuesday detailing how the EC will tackle the issue of roaming exorbitant charges.

The cost of roaming in Europe has become a major issue with companies and individuals complaining about high charges. The cost of data services is even higher — typically costing between £8 and £15 to download a megabyte of data and the tariffs are often confusing with users complaining about being surprised after receiving particularly large bills.

In defence of roaming charges, the GSMA added that "a sample of key operators" suggests that falls in retail roaming tariffs are accelerating, declining by an average of 8 percent across Europe last year.