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Mobile Phones: Fees and Charges

Volume 481: debated on Tuesday 21 October 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what steps his Department is taking to encourage mobile network operators to reduce their text and data roaming charges for customers travelling abroad. (222614)

[holding answer 6 October 2008]: The communications sector is subject to regulation under the Communications Act 2003 which implements the overarching European legislation in this area. That European legislation was amended in 2007 by a regulation to address the problem of the high cost of voice roaming while abroad. The regulation acknowledged that the costs of SMS and data roaming would need to be reviewed with a view to further regulation if the relevant charges did not decline through market forces.

In the light of their review of that regulation, the Commission has proposed an amending regulation to extend the present regulation of voice calls, establish a ceiling for the costs of text messages sent while abroad, and a ceiling on the wholesale charges that apply to data roaming (this largely relates to mobile internet access through laptops and phones). While the detail of the regulation has still to be negotiated, the proposal offers the prospect of real gains to UK consumers over and above the competitive packages already on offer in the UK, and the UK Government will be working with European partners to achieve that result.