Vodafone upset after €400,000 roaming penalty

Mobile bill

Vodafone has reached a 400,000 (335,000) settlement with the Irish communications regulator ComReg, after the latter accused the former of breaching EU laws designed to prevent data bill shocks.

The operator allegedly failed to implement a default spending cap option, which should have helped customers avoid high data bills.

It was claimed over 5,000 customers were affected, most of whom were business users and were kept on a 300 default spend cap, not the 50 cap option as deemed appropriate by ComReg's reading of the EU rules.

The company is disappointed with the regulator's approach on this issue.

Vodafone decided to settle rather than fight it out with ComReg in court, but said it was disappointed in the regulator's actions.

"Vodafone has settled with the regulator in the interest of achieving clarity for our customers, however the company is disappointed with the regulator's approach on this issue," Paul Ryan, strategy director at Vodafone Ireland, told IT Pro.

"Vodafone has always led the market in roaming from pricing to innovation. In other European markets, regulators have facilitated flexibility on data roaming pricing that recognises a need for higher caps on certain packages to meet customer requirements.

"Over the last 18 months Vodafone has repeatedly sought to engage with ComReg in order to seek guidance and clarity with regard to their requirements as would be the norm in these situations."

Whilst Vodafone admitted it had not complied with ComReg's interpretation of the law, it claimed to have complied with cap laws in accordance with European Regulators Group (ERG) guidelines.

"ERG guidelines aim at providing practical, proportionate and pragmatic guidance and advise that operators should provide consumer friendly solutions," Vodafone said.

"The majority of Vodafone Ireland's data roaming customers, over 90 per cent, are on a default tariff which applies the 50 data roaming cap and is fully compliant with ComReg's interpretation of current EU data roaming regulations."

Vodafone said that those customers on a higher default tariff were being notified from today.

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.