Mobile operators 'at odds' over roaming fees

With the EC investigating roaming charges, the GSM Association denies warfare between north and south

Europe's mobile operators are reportedly at odds over their approach to a clamp down on excessive roaming charges that are levied on subscribers who use their phone abroad.

The GSM Association — which represents the mobile industry — cancelled a meeting on Monday with European Commissioner Viviane Reding to discuss her drive to prevent mobile overcharging.

According to the Financial Times, the meeting had to be scrapped because mobile operators in southern Europe are unwilling to compromise on roaming fees as tourism makes them net beneficiaries of roaming charges.

A GSM Association spokesperson confirmed that Monday's meeting with Commissioner Reding had been cancelled, but denied that mobile operators were at war over the issue of roaming.

"We asked the meeting to be postponed until April because it's only two days until the Commission's consultation period ends," said a GSM Association spokesperson. "There's not a lot of detail about what the EC wants to do [about mobile roaming], so we want to see more details before we meet with them."

Commissioner Reding announced in February that she would take action to try and reduce the cost of using a mobile phone abroad. She said that per-minute rates of €5 were "fantasy".

Several ZDNet UK readers have been caught out by roaming costs, especially when using mobile data cards abroad. A common complaint is that they didn't get any warning about how much they were being charged — an issue that the GSM Association takes seriously.

"We're totally in favour of transparency – it will encourage more usage," said the GSM Association.