29 Sep 14
Balkan States to Cut Mobile Roaming Charges
Following the EU’s example, regulators in four Balkan countries have finally agreed to reduce mobile phone roaming charges, which are much higher than in western Europe.
The telecommunications ministers of Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Serbia signed an agreement in the Montenegrin town of Budva on Monday to limit sky-high roaming charges in the region by reducing the fees in phases over the next three years.
Regional telecommunications regulators also said in August that they could set up a Balkan cost-free roaming zone by January 1, 2015. Kosovo, Albania and Turkey have also been invited to be part of the zone.
But under the terms of the agreement, which BIRN has seen, the regulators have only agreed that the maximum prices of roaming services should be reduced to the level determined by a EU regulation dating back to 2012.
Under the regulation, the EU capped the maximum prices for phone calls made and received while abroad at 0.29 euro cents per minute.
But on July 1 this year, the EU cut roaming charges again to 0.19 euro per minute for calls abroad and 0.05 euro for calls received from abroad.
Under the Balkan regulators’ plan, roaming charges will be reduced for all types of mobile services – voice calls, text messaging and internet use.
“Within 30 days of the signing of the agreement, the regional governments will initiate procedures to change their laws so the prices of roaming services can be set on a reciprocal basis,” the agreement says.
Under pressure from the European Commission, mobile telephone operators in the EU have had to unify and lower roaming call prices since 2007.
Media reports said last week however that the total elimination of roaming fees in EU countries could be delayed to the end of 2015.
The telecommunications ministers of the four Balkan countries signed their agreement on roaming charges in the Montenegrin coastal town of Budva during Infofest, an annual information technology event organised by the Montenegrin telecommunications ministry.
Source: Balkan Insight (Montenegro)