EU telecoms operators should freeze for now wholesale roaming tariffs charged to their counterparts in Ukraine, allowing them to offer free roaming to the hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees fleeing the country, a key EU lawmaker said on Tuesday.
The call by Angelika Winzig at the European Parliament comes ahead of a vote by the plenary next week to extend EU rules on wholesale roaming fees for 10 years. Winzig, who is steering the issue through the legislature, said refugees calling home face hefty phone bills due to high roaming costs.
“I therefore call on European mobile operators to temporarily suspend wholesale caps for their Ukrainian partner so that they can offer free roaming to their customers,” she told Reuters. Telecoms industry bodies ETNO and GSMA pointed to recent efforts made by telecoms providers across the 27-country bloc to help the refugees, saying they may do more in the coming weeks.
“Operators are, for example, providing free SIM cards, free Wi-Fi in refugee camps and absorbing the cost of international calls and roaming fees to Ukraine, so that customers do not pay extra charges,” they said in a joint statement. “We continue working closely with BEREC and the European Commission to collaborate on measures to help those facing hardship and suffering.”
BEREC is made up of the 27 national telecoms regulators. Devdiscourse