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back to article Steelie Neelie accused of killing €0.01-per-megabyte roaming fee cap in Europe

EU Commissioner Neelie Kroes has reportedly dropped her plan to dramatically slash wholesale mobile roaming fees, a move that could have helped drive down Europeans' phone bills. In a fresh draft proposal for the future of telecoms on the Continent, seen by Reuters this week, Steelie Neelie did not mention the caps on charges as …

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Maybe she's planning on making the cap based on what a user would pay in their home country? So you might still pay extra, but it'll be no more than a certain proportion, e.g. 20%.

e.g. if it's €0.01 per MB for you normally, and the maximum roaming markup is 20%, you pay €0.012 per MB when abroad in another EU country.

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Anonymous Coward

what would be better is if they end roaming fees altogether as planned.

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Anonymous Coward

Telcos make a lot of money from roaming. End roaming charges, Telcos still want to make money, so they put domestic charges up to compensate. Result: Everyone loses.

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Anonymous Coward

re: raising domestic charges

I doubt they'll raise domestic charges by much even if they do so. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth by the networks about just such a scenario before the previous staged reductions in roaming voice and texts, and surprise surprise, domestic prices didn't rise noticeably beyond those extremely small (but very noisily protested nevertheless) rises on people in contract - in my case 80p on a 30 quid pm contract. Considering they had been threatening the likes of charges for voicemail and incoming calls, that hardly stacks up to the threat.

Mobile is very, very price sensitive as the networks know very well. 3G didn't catch on fully till almost a decade after the auctions because of the networks price gouging; they're trying to pull the same thing with 4G, and that will fail too because we're not prepared to pay the premium for comedy data allowances. The rise in the use of sim-only short contracts, with consumers buying their own handsets, exposes the relative lack of value in mobile pricing even further. The networks are stuck between a rock and a hard place; consumers simply won't pay more, and the networks know it.

Short of handing over brown envelopes to stop regulatory caps, all they have is empty threats and chest beating rhetoric on where they'll claw revenue lost to caps back. And on that, everyone from the regulator down to the punter has their number and they know it.

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......

People familiar with the matter said major telcos including Orange, Telefonica, Deutsche Telekom and Telecom Italia sent their chief execs to meet Kroes last month to discuss their concerns about her plans and to hand her some plain brown envelopes marked "Open upon retirement"

there, fixed that now

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Re: ......

Plain brown envelopes are used to pay the gentlemen with the east european accent if you need some password retrieved from say a journalist.

Politics get their money in black attache cases.

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It's actually cheaper on some UK networks to send an SMS from one EU country to another whilst roaming (capped EU rate, approx 10p) than it is to send the same text message from the UK to that same EU country (contract or PAYG rate, usually 20p).

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Well

I reckon they tried to impress upon her that the elasticity of demand could not outweigh the decrease in the premiums paid at such prices, or that it might not be possible to cover the extra administration costs involved (if any - I haven't a clue), so hold fire while we try to work out a mutually acceptable outcome...or else not only NO MORE BROWN ENVELOPES WITH CASH IN THEM, we'll actually put YOU in a big brown paper bag and ship you to our new joint venture, SOYLENT GREEN.

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Anonymous Coward

Ahem, I am happy that this proposal has been retired. It would put my job at risk...

As a consumer, I'm not happy.

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a question

Aren't some of these Telco's active in more than one European company, so why are there charges for just crossing a national border.

Eg Telco X has a subsidiary X Deutschland and another X France. A punter is with the German company. He's happily nattering away to his friend while driving through Kehl. Thinks to himself "I could use a croissant or two" and heads across the bridge to Strasbourg. Halfway across the Rhine does he suddenly get hit with a roaming fee mid-sentence?

I can understand fees - subject that they bear some resemblance to costs - but do pan-European groups have true internal barriers or is it just convenient to scrape a few pfennigs more out of the customer?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: a question

Three offer "Feel at home" which allows you to use UK allowances for data and calls/texts to the UK in other countries in which they operate, subject to a 2000 mins/25GB data per month limit:

- Australia

- Austria

- Denmark

- Hong Kong

- Italy

- Republic of Ireland

- Sweden.

They were reportedly going to ditch it in 2009, but have presumably recanted as its on the roaming section of their site. IIRC they were offering this as far back as 2004. It's rendered a bit less useful by the ban on tethering and it doesn't include local calls in the country you're in, but since data is included and skype is allowed on their network that's less of an issue, better still with a temporary local 'skype in' number if you need local inbound calls.

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Re: a question

The whole concept of subsidiary companies seems deeply fishy to me; it allows such things as:

-insulation from liabilities (e.g. Acme PLC goes bust owing several £1,000,000,000 while their owner, Acme GmbH says "Das ist nicht our problem mate.")

-licensing shenanigans (e.g. Starbucks UK saying "Profit? - no, that's not something we do - not after all those licensing fees we pay Starbucks to use the name "Starbucks".")

-probably more I can't think of

There may be a legitimate reason for companies being allowed to own other companies, but I can't think of it.

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Re: a question

I'd argue that your first reason is actually a great reason for a company to create a subsidary - its a way to take risks without necissarily putting the whole organisation at risk. As a consumer you want companies to be able to take risks or there would be less inovation (of course it does require anyone dealing with the subsidary to recognise that its not the parent and therefore is more likley to go bust). A good example of this is expanding into another teritory.

A more pratical example is sometimes a "compay" isnt allowed to conduct two forms of business (e.g. insurance broking and under writing) - in which case a group might want to own to companies to isolate the regulatory requirements (and then possibly a third service company to park various support staff like HR, finance and IT who arent allowed to be directly employed by both but realistically do need to work with both). Under that arrangement the point of sale staff and key senior management for each company arent subject to the conflicts of interest (or at least the conflict is very much reduced).

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FAIL

SHOCK, HORROR, ETC

Another Politician full of SHIT!!

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>It's been our intention since 2010 to eliminate the premiums associated with roaming and that remains our intention.

But of course we will continue to delay as long as possible so our political donor telecoms cash out while they can. I have many fond memories of living in Europe for a time but the telekoms (giving away the one I hate the worst) were not part of it.

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Roaming fees much lower, great ...

The biggest issue I have with the whole mess is that all this is pointless to most people unless they spend most of their time overseas. Roaming fees are now far cheaper than calling outside your allowance at home. Imagine my surprise when I saw I was paying close to 40p per minute one month, the only month I've ever gone outside my allowance.

This brings me to my question about this madness. How the hell does it now cost far less to call someone in the UK from outside the UK than it does to call them while here and why has this been allowed to happen?!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Roaming fees much lower, great ...

Because telecom regulation in the UK behaves more like the industry's PR department than its regulator. Just watch the silken swish of the revolving doors for further clues.

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Re: Roaming fees much lower, great ...

We have the same problem here in the states excepts its for every industry's regulation not just Telecom.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Roaming fees much lower, great ...

Its every industry in the UK too; astonishingly Ofcom are not even close to being the worst UK regulator, merely the one that is generally most visible to the public. The energy apologists Ofgem put them in the shade when it comes to ensuring business has a free reign to plunder consumer pockets.

In telecoms at least you do get better regulation in at least some respects; the FCC effectively put Phorm-like companies such as Frontporch out of business with a single statement, whereas here Ofcom came out with a rather longer and less meaningful version of "meh", leaving it to Alexander Hanff and friends and the EU to do their job for them.

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