John on It´s a significant victory for Europe's hard-pressed consumers. Now checking maps, videos, emails or social networks via mobile devices just got a little easier on EU citizens-- and their wallets.
B roll John off
These latest incremental steps towards creating a single European telecoms market came after fierce opposition from big firms like Vodafone and Telefonica who say it will cost them billions in profits and hurt new infrastructure rollout.
European companies made an estimated 15 billion Euros in roaming fees in 2013.
B-roll John off Meanwhile EPP Group Members played key roles in pushing through the roaming reforms to fight against price gouging by operators.
EPP member and Parliament's chief negotiator Angelika Niebler explained that the aim is falling prices to encourage increased usage by consumers in her consituency who fearfully await their next monthly phone bill.
Interview Angelika Niebler EPP Member Angelika Niebler 04:14 :04:33 They realise that the European Parliament really went ahead and also our EPP Group went ahead in order to push the Commission coming forward with a a proposal reducing roaming charges all over Europe and of course our overall aim is in 2016 to get rid all of the roaming charges.
John off Data roaming today is nearly 100 percent cheaper than in 2007. So what message do operators, hit with declining profits, have for consumers?
Martin Whitehead is European Director of the mobile industry association GSMA. He says reforms may be good for consumers, but they carry their own price tag.
Interview Martin Whitehead Director GSMA Europe Martin Whitehead Director, GSMA Europe 02:50 - 03:17 There is a cost associated with roaming without any shadow of a doubt. It`s not a service that´s free to provide. What we are seeing as you suggested are quite interesting offers now coming into the market. Roaming forms part of the bundle offered to the consumer. And I think operators are reacting now to the challenge of providing their customers with offers that match their roaming needs and we`re seeing that trend already develop.
B roll John off From 2014, customers would be able to keep costs down by selecting another provider for calls, texts and internet data services while travelling, if their own network charges extra for service abroad. All without having to change their phone number or buy a new SIM card.
BEUC, the European Consumer Organsation and its Director General Monique Goyens says consumers have suffered enough from the uneven pricing of more than 100 mobile providers in Europe.
Interview Monique Goyens, DG BEUC Monique Goyens, DG, BEUC
The headline figures on the price caps are eye-catching: 19 cents per minute for a call by July of 2014, down from 24 cents in 2013.
Mobile data downloads would fall to 20 cents per megabite –compared to 4 Euros per megabite in 2009. Text message prices fell in 2013 to 8 cents per text from 9 cents in 2012 and are to fall to 6 cents in 2014.
These kind of price cuts sound like uniformly bad news for the mobile industry. But are they?
Interview Martin Whitehead Director GSMA Europe Martin Whitehead, Director, GSMA Europe 08:45- 9:13 What our industry needs most of all is regulatory certainty. And when things change or goalposts are moved in very short time scales that can obviously lead to more uncertainty which can risk undermining the investment that`s required to underpin everything that happens both within the digital economy that also touches on the broader economy. This is ultimately about growth, jobs, investment and innovation.
John PTC Bridge The latest rules let users receive warnings from their providers about a mobile bill growing out of control.
Those heavy users offering huge growth but equally at risk from predatory pricing are younger consumers.
B roll John off Difficult to understand contracts with long mandatory subscriptions are to be simplified and shortened to allow greater switching to find the most competitive rates.
Various European youth groups have called high roaming charges a significant obstacle to mobility and fundamental freedoms for young people working and travelling abroad.
Angelika Niebler says both consumers and the industry stand to gain from both taming and encouraging young mobile users voracious appetites for calling, texting and chatting.
Interview Angelika Niebler EPP MEP Angelika Niebler 12:28- 12:43 cutaway 12:52- 13:11
John off Another area is internet speed or the lack thereof versus what has been promised in broadband networks. More accountability is needed, says BEUC's Monique Goyens.
Interview Monique Goyens, DG BEUC Monique Goyens, DG BEUC
John off The aim is to stimulate competition which leads to lower prices and greater consumption by telecoms clients. It's all part of creating a single digital market in Europe, says Angelika Niebler.
Interview Angelika Niebler EPP MEP Angelika Niebler
New technologies that encourage uptake include 4G and fibre networks. These cost a lot, and many smaller SMEs in the mobile sector may not be able to afford the upgrade on their own. That means more mergers and consolidation could be on the way. So will this help competition? Three quick views.
Vox pops Whitehead, Niebler, Goyens
Whitehead 04:17 - 04:32; Niebler (2:45-3:06); Goyens
John off In a sign of Brussels impatience, EU Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes recently told telecom companies to embrace data-driven change or become "corporate roadkill" at the hands of switched-off consumers.
In a recent EU study more than 70% of European travellers said they limited their roaming calls for fear of cost and only 19% believed data roaming prices to be fair. That is the driver for change now underway.
John PTC Close
So it´s people like Angelika Niebler who are helping consumers and mobile competitors get the best playing field possible.
But while mobile operators and the Commission work to their own agendas to keep Europe cutting edge and profitable, roaming is still closer to a luxury than a commodity for ordinary citizens.
Find out more about the activities of Parliament's largest political force by going to eppgroup.eu. Thanks for looking in and see you again soon.
EPP-led roaming cost cuts help Europe's call-and-data customers
2013 marked another significant cut in EU roaming costs for consumers affected by exorbitant prices on text and data
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