EU to Agree on Roaming Tomorrow

In an ‘informal’ meeting tomorrow, during the CeBit Conference in Hanover,  the EU’s 27 telecom ministers must come to some arrangement on the capping of roaming fees or miss their own deadline.
The ministerial meeting is "informal," so no firm decisions will be made, the commission said. But the commission believes the meeting will provide an opportunity to work out the finer points on how the roaming fee cuts should be rolled out and how the limits on roaming fees should be calculated.

The commission said heads of EU member states have "agreed to successfully conclude the legislative process on the reduction of roaming tariffs by the end of the first half of 2007".

The commission proposals involve setting a maximum price of 11p a minute for receiving calls, 34p a minute for calling home and 23p a minute for calls within a country.

But the plans have met with fierce opposition from operators for who, in some cases, roaming makes up to 18% of their revenue, which  would mean at least a EUR4.3 billion total loss of revenues to E.U. telecom operators.

The the UK and Italy are against the Commission’s proposals to put in place an absolute ceiling for what operators can charge users for roaming calls. The two countries are looking for an average ceiling, calculated over a year.

If the fine-print can’t be agreed tomorrow, the commission could miss it’s own deadline to reduce roaming fees, despite being fast-tracked, and Reding’s plans wouldn’t stand a chance of taking affect by this summer.

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