June 19, 2020 / 5:14 PM / 16 days ago

EU Commission seeks feedback to extending rules ending roaming fees

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission on Friday sought feedback to its planned extension of rules which ended mobile roaming charges across the bloc three years ago, with the move likely to trigger battles between telecoms operators on wholesale price caps.

While EU users do not pay additional charges when making a call, sending a text message or surfing the internet when travelling within the bloc, telecoms providers still have to pay wholesale fees to their counterparts in other countries that connect them.

Wholesale price caps were substantially reduced in 2017, along with the bloc’s adoption of the roaming regulation which ended roaming charges. The regulation will expire on June 30 next year.

Operators in northern European countries, whose citizens tend to go abroad for holidays, are keen to pay lower wholesale price caps to networks in southern holiday destinations.

Companies in Mediterranean countries on the other hand are more likely to lobby to keep such caps as high as possible so they can invest in networks to accommodate peak demand during the holiday season.

In its feedback to the Commission’s impact assessment of the roaming rules last year, Deutsche Telekom said wholesale rates should not be reduced because commercially agreed discounts meant these are already significantly below the caps.

The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) in turn wants to further reduce the wholesale price caps to boost mobile virtual network operators which piggyback on rivals’ networks.

The Commission said companies, governments, experts, regulators and users have until Sept. 11 to provide feedback.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by David Evans

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