February 12, 2008 6:49 AM PST

Operators hit back at EU data-roaming threat

The mobile industry has hit back at European Commission threats to introduce regulation to force data-roaming price cuts.

The GSM Association (GSMA), which represents mobile operators, says prices are already falling and that any move to intervene in this market by regulators could stifle innovation and stunt the development of new data offerings for roaming.

"This market is evolving rapidly, as operators develop new and innovative services and tariff packages, including flat-rate pricing packages and bundles," Tom Phillips, chief government and regulatory affairs officer of the GSMA, said in a statement. "In such a period of rapid growth and innovation, the GSMA believes that talk of regulation is premature."

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But the threat of regulation was welcomed by consumer price comparison company Moneysupermarket Financial Group.

"Costs for Brits using mobiles abroad are amongst the highest in Europe, and we welcome the European Commission steps towards reducing texting and data-roaming charges," Rob Barnes, head of broadband and mobile phones at Moneysupermarket.com, said in a statement. "For too long, networks have been free to charge as much as they like for texts and data, in some cases charging more for a text than to make a 1-minute phone call."

The biggest mobile-roaming cost for users is downloading data, according to the price comparison site. Orange customers pay 8 pounds ($15.57) per megabyte, while 3 customers pay 3 pounds ($5.84) per megabyte. Vodafone offers a roaming package for 5 pounds ($9.73) per day for up to 15MB.

Andy McCue of Silicon.com reported from London.

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regulation, tariff, innovation, operator, European Union


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