Baltic mobile companies snub Euro Commission

  • 2007-08-03
  • By Mike Collier
RIGA - An attempt by the European Commission to reduce roaming mobile chargesacross Europe has been generally successful, according to an ECsurvey 's though several Baltic mobile companies are singled out for criticism in it.

The EU Roaming Regulation became law on 30 June 2007 in all 27 EUmember states. It says that roaming charges should not exceed 0.49euros for making and 0.24 euros for receiving calls abroad (excludingVAT). Operators can compete below these price caps, by offering evencheaper prices.

But when the Commission attempted to track the implementation of thenew law, it met a decidedly uncommunicative attitude from severalBaltic communication companies.

Estonian companies EMT and Elisa are named as failing to respond, as isLatvia's LMT. Bite, which operates in both Latvia and Lithuania is cited, too.

Pan-Baltic operator Tele2 was the only company to reply to theCommission's report on time and to confirm that it was complying withthe new regulations.

Responding to the EC's criticism, Bite PR Manager Natalja Rodiomovatold The Baltic Times: "According to the new regulations, we have to gothrough a process of informing our customers about the new tariffs.That is what we are doing at the moment. We have already publiclyannounced that all of our customers will enjoy reduced roaming chargesfrom August 30."

Asked why the EC said it had received no response, Rodiomova said:"Most probably the Commission did not receive all of the documentationthey wanted by their deadline. But we are still providing them withdocumentation and we are confident that they will be satisfied whenthey have everything."

EU Telecom Commissioner Viviane Reding gave a thinly-veiled warning tooperators who continue to drag their feet, saying: "Only in a few cases's the exception rather than the rule 's we note attempts to delay theeffects of the regulation by non-transparent or possibly evenanti-competitive behaviour. These will have to be analysed verycarefully by national and European regulators. If we find evidence forbehaviour that violates the law, the EU Roaming Regulation foreseessanctions which could be complemented by the full force of competitionlaw."

The Commission, in cooperation with the European Regulators Group, willdo a more detailed analysis in October. The results will be included inthe EU Roaming Regulation's evaluation that the Commission has topresent to the European Parliament and to the EU Council of Ministerswithin 18 months after the regulation enters into force.

The Baltic Times attempted to contact the other companies named asnon-respondents in the report 's but received no response from them.