EU rules in favour of roaming regulations

The European Court of Justice has said caps on roaming calls in EU member states are justified.

Court

The European Court of Justice has ruled that legislation laying down maximum roaming charges for mobile operators is legal, dismissing challenges from Orange, Vodafone, T-Mobile and Telefonica O2.

The court said the Roaming Regulation, which set price caps on mobile phone costs while users are in another EU member state, adequately protected consumers against high charges.

This was despite the ruling concluding that the price ceiling could have a negative economic impact on operators.

The court also said that the legislation was beneficial for the harmony of the internal market and provided a "single coherent regulatory framework" for operators to work in.

The providers initially argued against the decision in September 2007 in front of the High Court of England and Wales, which turned to the European Court of Justice to get a decision.

The operators complained of a double whammy of caps. One limit was placed on what firms could charge each other for carrying calls for customers of other networks - known as wholesale costs. The other cap was placed on retail prices - what companies charge customers.

A Vodafone spokesman told IT PRO that the rules were an "unusual form of regulation" and that it was "unjust to have a single rate".

"Our roaming prices are already below the regulation [limits], so it won't affect our customers," he added.

Later this year, further changes will be made to the Roaming Regulation. From 1 July 2010, operators will need to implement a 50 (41.20) cut off limit for customers who have not set their own personal cap already.

Furthermore, the prices for roaming calls will go down to 0.39 cents from 0.46 per minute, excluding VAT. For received calls the cap will fall to 0.15 from 0.22, but the amended legislation will expire on 30 June 2012.

Text messages and mobile data services are also covered by the regulation. The Euro-SMS tariff limits the price of sending a text while abroad to 0.11, excluding VAT, and data downloading or uploading is capped at 1 per MB.

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