Turkeys voting for Christmas is as surprising as a mobile phone operator arguing for a reduction in charges but that’s what 3, the mobile operator, did earlier this week in the House of Lords.
“We don’t believe these charges can be justified,” Julie Minns, head of public policy for 3, told the House of Lords EU sub-committee about roaming charges for data.
The irony is that the EU wants lower roaming charges. European parliament has capped data roaming charges across the EU at 50 eurocents per megabyte, down from 80 cents.
The European parliament has also made it as legal requirement for all to allow customers to switch operator depending on where they are.
These provisions have been a long time coming. Various EC committees have pushed for them only to be stymied by the UK representative – the Minister of State for Vodafone – who invariably puts up some weaselly-worded non-justification for keeping charges high and then votes against any action being taken.
It’s always been the UK politicos, carrying out the orders of their operator masters, who are keeping roaming charges high.
Unfortunately this point was not taken up by their Lordships this week.
Instead they got the weaselly-worded non-justification from Robyn Durie, director of regulatory affairs at Everything Everywhere, the operator of the T-Mobile/Orange networks in the UK.
“Mobile data is relatively new, and prices have come down quite dramatically. I don’t think the charges are particularly high,” said Durie.
Well everyone else does.
Durie argued that the cost of providing mobile data is higher than the cost of providing fixed line data because of the expense involved in building masts, paying for spectrum, and transmitting the data through the internet “back to the country”.
Asked why T-Mobile and Orange charged different prices for data roaming, Durie replied that the two brands “were directed at slightly different markets”.
Ofcom is currently considering global price caps for data roaming.
At long last, this nonsense may be stopped.