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EMEA: EU may deregulate voice markets, delay end of roaming fees

The European Union appears to be taking a couple of regulatory steps that will please Europe’s biggest carriers.

First, EU member states voted this week to deregulate the voice market, according to Reuters. The measure would remove caps on the amount large carriers can charge smaller operators for accessing their networks.

Second, a draft proposal surfaced that could push back the deadline for ending mobile roaming fees within the 28 EU nations.

Both moves would be welcomed by major telecom operators in Europe.

The deregulation of the voice market is expected to be enacted in mid-October. ETNO, a telecom lobbying group that includes such major players as Deutsche Telekom, Orange and Telefónica, praised the idea.

“Competition from alternative platforms and over-the-top service competition are today well established, and this recommendation is the right instrument to adapt regulation to the new market reality,” ETNO said.

In addition, the possible delay of the end of roaming fees would allow carriers to hang on to that source of revenue for as long as a year. Originally, the proposed start of the “roam like at home” policy, or RLAH, was December 2015. However, that date does not appear in the draft proposal. Instead, the document throws the date open for debate: “The legislative date for the initial introduction of RLAH, subject to transitional measures and fair use limits, needs to be defined and is a significant political question.”

However, even if the draft proposal is realized, it is likely only a delay since earlier this year EU leaders voted heavily in favor of ending roaming fees by 2016.

More telecom news from Europe:

U.K. aims for “5G” leadership. At  this week’s 5G Huddle conference in London, U.K. leaders sought to put the country at the forefront of 5G development. The technology has a projected rollout date of 2020.

EE, O2 and Vodafone drop joint mobile pay project. Weve, which is owned by the three U.K. mobile operators, abandoned a mobile wallet project originally slated for launch in early 2015. The operators were reportedly unable to agree on how the wallet should operate. The loss of the project leaves EE, O2 and Vodafone behind the game in the U.K. as Apple prepares to launch its “wave and pay” service, Apple Pay.

Dutch carriers launch LTE-Advanced. Last week, KPN announced it made “4G+” available in The Hague. However, Vodafone Netherlands recently laid claim to the LTE-A bragging rights, saying it had switched on the technology several months before in Amsterdam.

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Sara Zaske
Contributor, Sara Zaske covers European carrier news for RCR Wireless News from Berlin, Germany. She has more than ten years experience in communications. Prior to moving to Germany, she worked as the communications director for the Oregon State University Foundation. She is also a former reporter with the San Francisco Examiner and Independent, where she covered development, transportation and other issues in the City of San Francisco and San Mateo County. Follow her on Twitter @szaske

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