Roaming charges are the bane of many travellers lives. Most frequent travellers have little choice but to unlock their phones so they can use local SIM cards when travelling, aiming to avoid the often extortionate roaming charges that creep up.
The EU has recognised this and are now vowing to make them a thing of the past. Neelie Kroes, who is the the digital commissioner for the EU and the same age as the recently retired Sir Alex Ferguson, said “I have no intention to retire until I’ve knocked down all the barriers to the single market” even making reference to her age and comparison to the former Manchester United manager. She expanded, “just think it through, a telecoms market without borders, without fragmentation, and that is the major priority for the rest of my mandate.”
The dream certainly does sound good and would solve many headaches of even the simplest cross-border travel. With many companies having a majority sharehold of neighbouring markets, such as Orange and Vodafone, you would think that such a task would be simple – however, we know that roaming charges are big business and something the networks will want to hold on to.
Kroes has criticised the European Governments in the past for slowing down the process of selling spectrum space and causing delays in the implementation of 4G. She has also already made changes to EU roaming charges, placing a cap on the amount of penalty they can incur. Kroes hasn’t yet released information on how the restructuring would work but the vision of networks sharing an infrastructure would open up the possibility of investment in other areas and reduce prices to consumers. With her track record of change, we’re hoping she can make the difference once again.