Kroes wants a true single mobile telephony market, apparently
There’s more grief on the way for Europe’s already hard pressed mobile network operators [MNOs] as EU telecom Commissioner, Neelie Kroes, is expected to propose a new EU law tomorrow [September 11th 2013]. Her aim is to merge the presently fragmented European mobile telecoms market into one single market by 2016. According to early leaks, the EU is expected to ban roaming charges within the EU from 2016 onwards by mandating the creation of operator alliances. Ironically, it is operators in the sunny Southern Europe who will probably lose out most and their economies are already in a bad way.
The latest stage of the EU roaming regulations came into force back in July  and cut prices for roaming (by more than 30 per cent for using the internet abroad, for example).
Further price cuts are already planned for July 2014. That’s still not enough for pressure group – Europeans for Fair Roaming, it seems.
The group’s co-ordinator, Bengt Beier, commented, “Consumers have come to rely on the EU on roaming and the EU will have to deliver.”
“We therefore expect that the EU will finally completely abolish roaming charges – and in fact premiums for all cross-border calls.”
He continued, “It will only be a single market when [EU] consumers pay the same for all calls, SMS and internet use, wherever they are in Europe and do not have to think about borders at all.”
“We repeat our demands: – free receiving of calls, lower prices for all cross-border calls in the EU and no more than 10 cents per minute or MB.”
Bengt Beier, added, “The current EU roaming regulation promises to open the market to new, specialised roaming operators from 2014 on.”
“Any new rules the EU proposes must ensure investor security and must not make small operators unprofitable.”
“Small operators are key drivers for lower prices and innovative services in the telecom business,” Beier argued.
That is, of course, the danger. If operators are forced to replace lucrative roaming charges, they might well put call charges up.
There’s also the problem that different geographies have different operator business models.
Some operators don’t subsidise handsets at all, for example. If all call charges have to be the same, then handset subsidies might vanish completely.