EU lawmakers vote in favour of cuts in wholesale roaming tariffs

EU lawmakers vote in favour of cuts in wholesale roaming tariffs

BRUSSELS Reuters - Lawmakers on the European Parliament's Industry Committee voted on Thursday for deeper cuts in wholesale roaming tariffs proposed by telecom operators to their counterparts than those proposed by the EU Commission, saying the move would boost competition.

Wholesale price caps typically pit telecoms providers in northern Europe against those in southern Europe over who should profit from tourists making calls home.

The former want to keep such caps as high as possible so they can invest in networks to accommodate the peak demand during the holiday season, while the latter, whose citizens tend to go abroad for holidays, want lower caps to network in southern destinations.

The European Parliament's industry committee on Wednesday proposed a wholesale voice tariff of 0.015 euro per minute next year which will be reduced to 0.01 Euro in 2025, compared with the European Commission's proposal of 0.032 euro and 0.019 euro respectively.

Lawmakers also want to make wholesale rates for text messages at 0.003 euro per message until 2032, while the Commission had proposed 0.01 euro for next year, falling to 0.003 in 2025.

The lawmakers want to cap data tariffs at 1 euro per gigabyte versus the EU executive's proposed 2.5 euros next year and 1.5 euros in 2025.

The legislator Angelika Winzig, who is steering the issue through the legislature, said the Commission's proposal was not progressive enough to reflect market realities where smaller operators struggle to offer sustainable rates.

It is why significantly reducing wholesale pricing is beneficial to the market and consumers alike. It would improve competition, which would increase the possibilities for better prices for consumers and enterprises, she said in a statement.

The committee will need to get support from the entire assembly which typically is a formality but dissenting lawmakers can still come up with revisions.

The legislators backed the Commission's proposal for a 10-year extension of rules that eliminated retail mobile roaming charges four years ago.

The proposals need EU support before becoming law. The first meeting between the lawmakers and representatives of the EU countries is scheduled for 26. Oct.