GSMA says Kroes’ roaming comments “unfortunate”

GSMA says Kroes’ roaming comments “unfortunate”

The chief government and regulatory affairs officer of GSMA, Tom Phillips, has responded to last week’s speech from Neelie Kroes, in which the European commissioner for the digital agenda called for the creation of a single European telecoms market by describing her comments as “unfortunate”.

Kroes delivered an emotionally charged speech in which she spoke of the importance of addressing issues including net neutrality and cyber crime and said that a single European telecoms market would have economic and social benefits for a range of social and demographic groups. But her emphasis on roaming, including a call to “end mobile roaming costs”, was not what GSMA wanted to hear.

Picking up where her predecessor Viviane Reding left off, Kroes has led sustained attacks on European roaming charges—retail and wholesale—with considerable success. “Everyone loves the benefits of EU price cuts to roaming. It is the one thing even Eurocritics agree the EU did well,” Kroes said last week. “On one hand my portfolio is the source of this incredibly popular EU policy… but on the other hand we struggle to push other telecoms and digital issues to the top of the political agenda. A strong single market package is the way to change that.”

GSMA has always opposed European roaming legislation, but it is sympathetic to the notion of a single European telecoms market. Last week the organisation released a report in which it warned that the European market has lost its competitive edge and is now, according to director general Anne Bouverot, “significantly underperforming other advanced economies, including the United States.”

The report, produced by Navigant Economics, concluded that regulation should look to facilitate investment, speed up spectrum release and harmonisation, enable market-led consolidation, establish a light-touch pan-European regulatory regime and work to attract investment into the region.

In a statement released Monday, Tom Phillips urged Kroes to take its findings on board. “The GSMA encourages the Commissioner to keep her focus on the big picture and to make bold and long-term recommendations. In this regard, it is unfortunate that the Commissioner should have used her recent platform with parliament to talk about roaming… The Commissioner should immediately clarify her intentions with regard to roaming, to avoid the industry investing in a roaming solution that has been superseded before it is launched,” he said.

Ms Neelie Kroes, vice-president responsible for digital agenda, European Commission, is delivering a keynote speech at the Broadband World Forum, taking place on the 22nd – 24th October 2013 at the RAI Exhibition and Convention Centre, Amsterdam. Click here to pre-register for the event.

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