Government urged to move on mobile phone roaming cap charges

One of the things that has most concerned mobile users for some time are high mobile phone roaming charges and now a House of Lords Committee is pressing the government to cap those charges.

The House of Lords EU Sub-Committee on the Internal Market Energy and Transport Committee heard evidence last week from various mobile phone companies and consumer groups and has now contacted the government’s Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, Ed Vaizey in the belief that mobile phone roaming charges are “unacceptably high.” The committee has viewed proposals from the European Commission that would make EU mobile phone roaming chargers lower and has made some key points in its communication to Ed Vaizey.

One of these key points is that customers are being deterred from using smartphone services while abroad because of the high charges while another point was that price caps are welcomed for retail and wholesale to lower costs for the consumer. However enough of a margin should be maintained between any caps to enable innovation and competition.

The committee also felt that price caps should be the means and not the end to a competitive market and that the long-term aim should be the reduction of regulation on retail price caps along with bringing in sustainable structural solutions. Another important factor that the committee has indicated to the Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries is that any future developments should have consumers at the heart with mobile phone operators providing clear charges and all the information that consumers need in order to consider those charges.

The evidence session was conducted by the Chairman of the Committee Baroness O’Cathain who said, “For too long consumers have been left in the dark as to roaming charges, leading to ‘bill shock’ when people use their phones abroad. The industry will not reduce its prices voluntarily, and the EU needs to keep up its system of price caps in order to drive costs down.” Baroness O’Cathain also said that retail price caps should only be an interim solution and that more sustainable solutions should be established by the EU, allowing a longer-term competitive marketplace. She concluded that for far too long consumers’ interests have been neglected and that the proposals would mean that customers would begin to be put first.

Some of those who gave evidence to the Committee included Julie Minns, Head of Public Policy and Corporate Responsibility, Three UK and Bob Warner, Chair of the Communications Consumer Panel. If you want to hear the evidence for yourself then head to this link. What are your thoughts on the key points being passed on to Ed Vaizey by the House of Lords committee?

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