|3 Group, KPN Group and Play Move to Bring Down Data Roaming Prices|
|Thursday, 07 February 2008|
Five mobile operators with networks covering 10 European markets and a population of more than 295 million – 60 per cent of the European Union's total 495 million – have today accepted the challenge set by the European Commission to push for better value data roaming for customers.
KPN in the Netherlands, Belgian operator BASE and German operator E-Plus have joined Play in Poland and 3 in the UK, Italy, Ireland, Austria, Sweden and Denmark to agree a wholesale rate of EUR0.25 (18.6 UK pence at today's rates) per MB of data downloaded. The new wholesale price will be introduced by the five initial participants on 1 March 2008.
In order for customers across the EU to benefit from the potential this offers to reduce retail prices, the five operators have challenged other operators across Europe to join them by also bringing down their wholesale rates. With the European average retail roaming rate currently at EUR5.24 per MB, this could lead to significant reductions in retail prices across the EU.
"This will allow us to pass on the significant savings achieved through a simple, transparent and competitive wholesale tariff to our customers across the EU," said Stan Miller, President and CEO of KPN Mobile Group. "Our companies in Germany and Belgium have supported the initiatives of Mrs Reding to make mobile telephony affordable. Voice roaming was one example. Now it’s time to support the demand for data roaming across the EU. This deal is a start. It reaches across 10 countries. We hope that other operators in more markets will act too."
Consumers across Europe are still fearful of using their phones and laptops to access data via mobile networks abroad as they are concerned they will be charged exorbitant prices for the same simple and increasingly inexpensive tasks they are now used to at home.
According to Christian Salbaing, MD European Telecommunications for Hutchison 3G Europe, wholesale data pricing must be brought more consistently in line with the cost of providing the data. "Simple and transparent wholesale pricing will enable competition to establish more consumer-friendly offers right across the EU."
"Our move on wholesale prices is intended to be a concrete step to bringing fairly-priced data roaming to Europe. We believe the benefit to consumers will be a move away from inflated per-event based prices to charging on a more consistent flat-rate subscription-based model which is what we are all now used to experiencing with the internet," he adds.
National regulators and the European Commission have called for the industry to act to end excessive prices, promising action at the regulatory level should the market fail to deliver. This deal is designed to kick-start inexpensive mobile internet access for roamers across Europe.
Chris Bannister, CEO of Play commented: "In 2007, Play was the first to move to reducing voice pricing across Europe. 2008 will be the year when the participants in this initiative will change the rules for data usage making Mobile Broadband truly mobile. I hope all major European players will join this initiative, so that all European consumers can enjoy the benefits of mobile Internet access without fear of being ripped off when they get their bill."
"When customers travel to parts of Europe not served by their home network provider, they risk massive bills for simply browsing the web or accessing their email over the mobile network," said Mr Bannister.
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