GSMA Responds To European Commission Proposals To Regulate Roaming Costs For Text Messaging
The GSMA, the global trade group for the mobile industry, responded to the European Commission's announcement of proposed regulation to cap the cost of sending text, or SMS, messages across European borders.
"According to our analysis, the average price of SMS roaming services in the EU has declined by 18% in the last year, as operators launch new tariffs, allowing consumers to buy bundles of texts, as have proved so popular in domestic markets," said Tom Phillips, Chief Government and Regulatory Affairs Officer at the GSMA. "The Commission’s proposals to single out yet another aspect of the mobile industry and apply retail price regulation, threatens to choke growth and stifle competition."
The GSMA points to the examples of many operators that have introduced either bundles of text messages for roamers, which can result in a price of just 10 euro cents per message for those who make full use of their bundle or daily tariffs, that for less than one euro per day, enable roamers to send messages for just 15 euro cents each – already within the price caps range suggested by the ERG. There is a great deal of choice when it comes to tariff packages, offering customers the option that best suits their needs.
"The Commission’s fixation with regulating common mobile prices across the EU is widespread. Different markets have inherently different costs, whether from variations in tax or, for example labour rates. These services should be priced based on local market conditions, not on some vision of a single Europe, originating in Brussels," said Tom Phillips.
The GSMA also highlights that many operators have lowered their SMS roaming charges either through a reduction of their standard SMS rates, or the launch of specialised packages aimed at roamers, including Mobilkom Austria, Orange (in France, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, UK), Telefonica (in Spain, Ireland, Czech Republic, UK, Germany) T-Mobile (in Austria, Germany, UK, Netherlands) and Vodafone (in Italy, Spain, UK). The GSMA believes the trend towards roaming packages and other innovative tariffs will continue, demonstrating the competitive nature of the market.
As to the Commission's suggestion that new measures will be introduced regarding the transparency of data roaming prices, the GSMA points out that mobile operators are improving transparency around data roaming prices and reducing the likelihood of unexpected bills. Many operators now offer data roaming services in bundles for a flat fee, giving customers better control over their spending and reducing the likelihood of unexpected costs.
In addition, individual operators have introduced transparency measures, such as software that monitors data usage, text message alerts when customers reach a predetermined threshold and near real-time billing available online.