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EC Director Calls for Data Roaming Transparency
By: MarkJ - 22 July, 2008 (8:56 AM)

The European Commissions' director general for the information society and media, Fabio Colasanti, has called on mobile phone operators to be more transparent with their data roaming usage charges.

Mobile Broadband may be a wondrous invention, though many would agree that most mobile operators fail to prevent customers from totting up huge bills when they take such services abroad, where the pricing structure can change dramatically:

"There is a widespread feeling that a wholesale cap should be avoided. It is an emerging market and there could be unintended consequences," said Colasanti. "At the moment, the concern is the bill shock that consumers receive. Users often don't understand using data. The best idea, in my view, is if companies could say on devices how much data you are using, or give a fixed allowance on data roaming."

Readers will no doubt recall the case of a Manchester man that was recently billed 31,500 for using his Mobile Broadband package while outside of the UK (here). There have been several similar cases too, which clearly highlights the problem.

However, ZDNet reports that T-Mobile's regulatory counsel, Robyn Durie, has urged the Commission not to get involved, warning that regulation can stifle innovation. Others, such as Nick White, the executive vide president of the International Telecommunications Users Group (INTUG), say that tariffs are still "too complex and inconsistent".

Sadly most European operators offer and run very different services from the UK, making it technically and economically impossible to fix the situation through regulation, at least not until operators around the continent have had a chance to catch up with one another.

That being said, it should be possible to introduce greater pricing transparency and measures that prevent inflated bills. However, unless operators are willing to do this then we fear that further regulation may indeed be required.

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