Business

Europe ends roaming charges on Thursday

PARIS: Long an important source of revenue for telecommunications companies, roaming charges will be lifted in Europe starting on Thursday, raising pressure on the operators in a tight market.

Roaming charges within and outside Europe account for an average of around 5 per cent of sales for telephone operators in Europe.

In Spain, Telefonica estimated that the end of roaming charges in the European Union will lead to a 1.2 per cent drop in its sales this year.

Plans for the change have been in the works for several years.

"If the operators are not ready, it will be more their fault than anything else," said BMI Research analyst Dexter Thillien.

Still, the mobile service operators are taking different approaches as they gear up for the change.

In Italy, Wind-Tre said it implemented the requirements two months early, while rival TIM said it would adhere to the new rules the day they come into effect.

In France, Free expanded the reach of its roaming-charge-free zone in March, whereas Orange and Bouygues did away with the fees last month.

The European Commission estimated that the end of roaming fees will cost European telecommunications operators €1.2 billion (S$1.86 billion). - AFP

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