Hutchison's 3 to partner with KPN, Play to lower European data roaming rates
Hutchison Whampoa's European 3G mobile operator 3, Dutch telecoms provider Royal KPN NV and Polish network operator Play have signed a deal to lower European wholesale data roaming rates in an attempt to galvanise the rest of the mobile industry to follow suit. The deal allows the three operators, as well as KPN's subsidiaries Base and E-Plus, to sell data roaming to each other for 0.25 eur per megabit, with the hope that if other operators to join them retail roaming rates can come down too. The deal announced today won't lead to any immediate change in retail roaming rates, but if enough network operators join the scheme and there is a widespread reduction of wholesale rates, 'this will inevitably lead to lower retail rates,' a spokesman for 3 said. EU telecoms commissioner Viviane Reding has expressed concern about SMS and data roaming prices and the industry faces regulation if mobile companies do not react on their own. The European Commission will present a report to Parliament at the end of 2008 on the effects of the roaming caps and on the development of prices for text messaging and data roaming. Voice call roaming rates were capped by the EU last year, eating into network operators' profits on already declining voice revenue. Data is the main driver of mobile revenue growth in the saturated European market.