Three say roaming charges are 'too high'
Roaming charges are something of a hot-topic at the moment, despite the fact everyone's too broke to go on holiday. Anyway, the cost is too high because of the stranglehold that major mobile operators have on wholesale data, according to Three speaking in an EU sub-committee hearing at the House of Lords.
For the record, everyone in the House of Lords still has their keytones on, bless 'em.
Basically, in order for someone like Three to allow their customers to roam on other networks outside of the UK, they need to negotiate with other operators based on the volumes of roaming data it requires. So it might get a good rate in one market and not in another.
"This means that the retail price we are offering to consumers is too high because we need to set it at a level where we are not making a loss with any of the networks we are roaming onto," says Julie Minns, Head of Public Policy and Corporate Responsibility, Three UK. "We don't think these charges can be justified.
"We might be able to negotiate a reasonable rate in Spain, but not in other countries. Our consumers would prefer to have a European rate, not just an individual country rate."
Probably better to actually ask the customers first though, eh? If they're getting a good deal in Spain, but not one in Albania where they're unlikely to holiday, then surely they'd take a country-by-country rate?
Either way, this is all following a vote by the European Parliament to try and cap roaming charges. Under the new measures, mobile companies will have to allow users switch provider when abroad.
Bob Warner, Chair, Communications Consumer Panel, agreed that; "rates have been too high for too long. Data prices are still much too high. They probably undercharge for data in the UK and overcharge abroad. You get used to having data at very low rates in the UK and so develop certain usage habits and then go abroad and get bill shock."
Meanwhile, Robyn Durie, director of regulatory affairs from Everything Everywhere, disagreed, saying that roaming charges were not too high: "We would like to see more competition in the market rather than price caps. Competition is far more effective than price caps in bringing prices down."