EU watchdogs back mandatory EU cap on text prices
BRUSSELS, July 3 |
BRUSSELS, July 3 (Reuters) - The cost of texting from outside a home country in the European Union could be slashed by up to two-thirds and still give operators a fair return, the bloc's national telecoms watchdogs say.
EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding decides this month whether to propose mandatory caps on what consumers pay for roaming, or sending and receiving text messages while travelling in another EU state.
She will also decide whether prices for roamed data -- using a mobile or laptop to surf the Web and send emails -- should be capped.
Reding told operators in February to slash prices by June 30 or face mandatory caps like those she had introduced on roamed voice calls, one of the EU's most popular policies ever.
The European Regulators Group of national telecoms watchdogs from the 27 EU states said in a submission to Reding there had been little movement in roamed text prices by April.
The average retail price for a roaming text is around 30 euro cents (48 U.S. cents) and the group believes "the underlying costs of provision of the service are significantly lower".
A Eurotariff of between 11 and 15 euro cents "would be sufficient to allow full recovery of costs together with a reasonable return", the submission obtained by Reuters said.
This is in line with Reding's 12 euro cent target.
The GSM Association, which represents mobile phone operators such as Vodafone (VOD.L), Orange (FTE.PA) and T-Mobile (DTEGn.DE), said in a submission to Reding that text prices were falling and could not be considered in isolation.
They are typically part of a bundled offering, with no charge for receiving a roamed text.
"The Commission has no basis for justifying regulation of SMS," the GSM Association said.
The ERG sees no case for caps on roamed data as there are real commercial incentives to cut prices but backs the extension of price caps on roamed voice calls by three years beyond 2010, when they expire.
"During the period up to 2013, starting with the charge caps already set for 2009/10, the fall in input costs is ... likely to justify a 2 euro cent reduction each year at the wholesale level for the three years ... and a 2-3 euro cents reduction at the retail level," its submission said.
"A higher reduction might be justified for incoming retail calls," the ERG submission said.
In 2009/10, the cap on roamed voice calls falls to 43 cents a minute per call made and 19 cents per call received. (Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Dale Hudson)
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