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EU lawmakers give thumbs up for lower wholesale roaming fees

EU lawmakers give thumbs up for lower wholesale roaming fees
EU lawmakers give thumbs up for lower wholesale roaming fees Copyright Thomson Reuters 2022
Copyright Thomson Reuters 2022
By Reuters
Published on Updated
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By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS - EU lawmakers on Thursday backed lower price caps on wholesale roaming fees paid by telecoms operators to peers in another EU country, extending for a decade a policy that benefits consumers.

The European Parliament and EU countries had reached a political deal in December last year. The next step will be for the latter to give their formal agreement in the coming weeks for the price caps to come into force.

The European Commission scrapped retail roaming charges and introduced price caps on wholesale roaming charges in 2017, saying this would spare consumers from 'bill shock' when they return from their holidays abroad.

Telecoms providers in southern European countries prefer to keep wholesale price caps as high as possible to benefit from tourists making calls home, while operators in northern Europe, whose citizens tend to holiday abroad, typically argue for lower caps.

Under the political deal reached last year, the wholesale voice tariff will be capped at 0.022 euro per minute next year and go down to 0.019 euro in 2025 until 2032.

Wholesale rates for text messages will be limited to 0.004 euro per message next year, and at 0.003 in 2025 to 2032.

Data tariffs will be capped at 1.80 euros per gigabyte next year, 1.55 euros in 2024, gradually decreasing to 1 euro in 2027 to 2032.

"By significantly cutting the wholesale caps, we create more fairness and competition on the telecommunications market," EU lawmaker Angelika Winzig, who steered the issue through the assembly, said in a statement.

EU lawmakers had originally sought bigger cuts in the price caps than what the European Commission had proposed while EU countries, lobbied by telecoms providers, wanted smaller reductions.

The Parliament said the Commission would look into possibly cutting the costs of intra-EU calls, which are the surcharges for making calls from one EU country to another and now capped at 19 cents, following calls from lawmakers.

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