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EU lawmakers’ committee votes for bigger cuts in wholesale roaming fees By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO – A woman looks at her phone while she is in central London on September 13, 2018, Britain. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters), – The European Parliament’s industry committee voted to reduce wholesale roaming fees paid by operators of telecoms companies to their counterparts. These cuts are more drastic than the EU Commission’s proposal. They believe that this would help boost competition.

Wholesale price caps often pit telecoms companies in Southern Europe against those in Northern Europe, over who benefits from calls made by tourists to their home countries.

Both the first and second want such caps to be as low as possible to allow them to invest in network infrastructure to handle peak season demand. However, those who travel to southern countries for holiday purposes are more likely to accept lower caps.

A wholesale voice tariff for voice calls of 0.15 euros per minute has been proposed by the European Parliament’s Industry Committee. This will be lower than that offered by the European Commission of 0.032 and 0.019 respectively.

Also, lawmakers want to establish wholesale rates for SMS messages at 0.003 Euro per message for the next 12 months. The Commission suggested 0.01 euros for 2020. It will drop to 0.003 for 2025.

They want data tariffs to be capped at one euro per gigabyte, as opposed to the EU executive’s proposal of 2.5 euros next year. And 1.5 euros by 2025.

Angelika Winzig (lawmaker) is leading the discussion through the legislature. She said that the Commission’s proposal was not “progressive enough to reflect market realities”, where smaller operators are unable to provide sustainable rates.

It is why significantly lowering wholesale caps will be beneficial for both the market and consumers. She stated in a statement that it would allow for more competition which could lead to better prices for both consumers and businesses.

While the support of the assembly is typically a formality, the committee should be able to get it. Dissenting members can however still propose revisions.

They supported the Commission’s recommendation for a 10-year extension of rules that ended roaming fees across the bloc in retail stores four years ago.

Before the proposals can become law, they will need to be supported by EU countries. October 26th will be the first time that representatives from EU countries and lawmakers meet.

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Mike Robinson
Mike covers the financial, utilities and biotechnology sectors for Street Register. He has been writing about investment and personal finance topics for almost 12 years. Mike has an MBA in Finance from Wake Forest University.