Viviane Reding, the EU commissioner for information society and media, has announced plans to cap mobile roaming charges in Europe at 50 euro cents. Telecoms law experts at Eversheds are arguing that while the proposed legislation is not unexpected, without sufficient investment in networks across Europe to deal with the expected increased in call traffic, the legislation could be counter-productive.
Neil Brown, head of telecoms at Eversheds law firm comments: “The issue of roaming charges in Europe has been debated for some time, and it now looks inevitable that this will become the subject of formal legislation. This should not come as a surprise to networks and operators, although many may campaign for a year until implementation, rather than the fast-track before this summer as the EU is suggesting.
“That said, networks should be preparing for the possibility that this legislation may come into force in July this year. There are a number of potential issues which could arise, such as whether the networks that service key holiday hotspots, for example Spanish or Greek resorts, can cope with the expected increase in holidaymakers making calls whilst abroad. If they cannot cope with the increased traffic, the measures to cap roaming charges could be counter-productive. Therefore, if there is to be increased investment in the networks at key European holiday destinations, this needs to start now.
“The proposed EU Directive is not necessarily bad news for networks as, rather than increased pricing, they should benefit from increased traffic. Networks need to consider how the legislation could work to both their advantage and that of their customers.”