European Commission sticks to roaming charge cuts

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European Commission sticks to roaming charge cuts
EC Commissioner Neelie Kroes.

Denies telco pressure saw plans scrapped.

The European Commission won't back down on plans to axe mobile roaming charges by as much as 70 percent.

News agency Reuters reported earlier this week that EC vice-president and digital commissioner Neelie Kroes had scrapped a draft proposal to cut roaming rates, following criticism of the planned measure from European telcos.

However, Ryan Heath, a spokesperson for Kroes, said in a press briefing that roaming charges will still be slashed as part of a larger regulatory package.

"We're still planning to get rid of roaming. It's always been our intention," Heath said.

Kroes also stated on Twitter that the EC will indeed remove mobile roaming charges in the union.

A full regulatory package on telecommunications including roaming fees will be presented to the 28 member countries of the European Union on September 11, and Heath said this includes roaming charges.

According to an earlier draft proposal seen by Reuters, Kroes wanted to introduce a cap of three euro cents per minute for voice calls, starting July next year and lasting to June 2022.

She also proposed slashing the wholesale rate for data to 1.5 euro cents per megabyte. Currently, the wholesale rate for data stands at 15 euro cents per megabyte.

The EC has already mandated lower mobile roaming rates in the EU. Under new EC regulation effective from July this year, retail data charges will be capped at 0.45 euro per megabyte and SMS can cost no more than 0.08 euro each while roaming.

Voice charges were slashed by 12.5 percent to 0.24 euro per minute to make calls and 0.07 euro to receive them. Providers can charge less than that as well.

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