BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission on Wednesday proposed further cuts to wholesale roaming tariffs paid by telecoms operators to their counterparts, plus a 10-year extension to rules which ended retail mobile roaming charges across the bloc four years ago.
Wholesale price caps have pitted telecoms providers in southern European countries with those in northern Europe over who should benefit from tourists making calls home.
The former are keen to keep such caps as high as possible so they can invest in networks to accommodate peak demand during the holiday season, while the latter, whose citizens tend to go abroad for holidays, want lower caps to networks in southern destinations.
The EU executive said it wants wholesale caps to be reduced from July 1 next year and a second cut effective from Jan. 1, 2025. The caps were substantially reduced in 2017.
“These caps reflect decreasing operators’ wholesale costs of providing roaming services,” the Commission said in a statement.
It proposed a 31% cut in the wholesale voice tariff next year, followed by a 13.6% reduction in 2025, while the rates for text messages would be cut by 60% and 25% in the same period.
The tariffs for data are expected to fall by 20% next year and by 25% in 2025. The current rules are valid until June 2022.
European consumer lobbying group BEUC said the Commission should be more ambitious and slash prices close to real costs.
“This is particularly important for data. High wholesale caps can affect the price of consumers’ mobile phone subscriptions and squeeze smaller operators out of the market,” it said.
The Commission’s proposal will have to be approved by EU countries and the European Parliament before it can be adopted.
Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Jan Harvey
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