Roaming Fee on Debate
The GSM Association, founded in 1987 is a global trade association representing more than 690 GSM mobile phone operators across 213 territories and countries of the world. In addition, more than 160 manufacturers and suppliers support the Associationís initiatives as associate members. The primary goals of the GSMA are to ensure mobile phones and wireless services work globally and are easily accessible, enhancing their value to individual customers and national economies, while creating new business opportunities for operators and their suppliers.
Following the announcement of European commission plans to regulate the market for making mobile phone calls abroad and reduce "roaming" prices to the level of domestic charges, the GSM Association claims that the operators' profits will be cut
by about Ä2.3bn (£1.6bn). This leads to a raise of prices for the roaming services of about 7%, according to Viviane Reding, the IT commissioner.
Operatorsí reaction was to start a lobbying campaign among Ms Reding's 24 fellow commissioners. Still, Ms Reding can claim public backing from Josť Manuel Barroso, the EC president, and her advisers insist that commissioners targeted by the lobby are on her side.
Britain's five big mobile operators have reduced the cost of roaming by varying amounts in the past month, which was the best proof, according to the GSM Association, that the market was working. Operators say Ms Reding's officials failed to carry out
a required "impact assessment" of their proposals. Tom Phillips, the association's chief government and regulatory affairs officer, said: "Fresh legislation is unwarranted. It will provide an unnecessary burden; it's just Brussels bureaucracy"
The response of a senior EU source was that "If we had not moved, the market would not even have thought of moving and the responses so far, while welcome, simply don't go far enough." Mr Phillips replied that competition had forced operators' voice revenues down 5% a year over the past five years, with roaming prices down 8% in 2005 and set to fall even further this year.
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