The European Commission (EC) had asked network operators to voluntarily cut the costs of text-roaming in Europe – the cost of sending a text while in another country. The network operators had refused, saying costs were falling anyway.
Now the EC has shown the iron fist in its velvet glove by announcing it will impose a cap on text-roaming charges, and has warned it will do the same with data-roaming charges unless operators take steps themselves.
In a statement the Commission said:
"The average cost of a roaming text message in the EU between October 2007 and March 2008 was €0.29 [45 cents], according to the European Regulators Group (ERG), but can be as high as €0.80 for travellers from Belgium. Calls on the industry for self-regulation and voluntary reductions of roaming prices for text messages have not been answered. The Commission will, therefore, start working on measures to ensure that consumers benefit from a truly single market for mobile text services."
The Commission has indicated that its proposals will go before the European Parliament early this fall.
According to ZDNet, mobile industry body the GSM Association responded by saying that "the Commission’s proposals to single out yet another aspect of the mobile industry and apply retail price regulation, threatens to choke growth and stifle competition."