Sunday, June 08, 2008

Roaming - a growth in usage

Roaming has Increased By Up to 164 Percent, Says Analyst

It is becoming much more expensive for most Europeans to call home when traveling outside the European Union, as operators try to recoup losses related to capped roaming rates in Europe, according to Informa Telecoms and Media.

A German mobile user has on average seen a massive 164 percent price increase since 2006 for a call home from Africa. Other examples are a 32 percent increase when calling from India to Spain, and the average price of a call from Russia to Italy is up by 25 percent, to EUR 4.58 (US$7.50) a minute.

The Eurotariff regulation, which came into effect on June 30, 2007, capped roaming prices at EUR 0.49 a minute for calls made within the E.U. by subscribers of European mobile operators, and has lead to savings for users, but losses running in the hundreds of millions of euros for operators, according to Angela Stainthorpe, analyst at Informa Telecoms and Media.

"As roaming traffic growth hasn't kept up with falling tariffs, operators are looking elsewhere to recoup their losses," said Stainthorpe.

Only 15 percent of Europeans are traveling outside the E.U., but the high rates they pay for the privilege have had a significant impact on operators roaming strategy, according to Stainthorpe.

The European Commission, the E.U.'s executive and regulatory body, says it is concerned about the increase in charges, but that it has no legal instrument to regulate calls outside the 27 E.U. member states, according to a statement.

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