Wednesday 9 June 2010

What Vodafone do not giveth, Vodafone cannot taketh away

The EU Law Blog has a great post explaining a recent ECJ judgment on the mobile phone roaming charges. The case concerned the legality of the regulation establishing the cap on roaming charges, and I'd recommend the article if you're interested or want to get a feel for how the ECJ decides such things.

Another interesting thing (though it's not very surprising) is the behaviour of Vodafone (and perhaps the others, but it's Vodafone that stuck in my mind). When the roaming charges legislation was passed and being announced on the news, it was noticable that Vodafone had quickly got advertising out pushing the idea that it was reducing roaming charges for its customers - as if it was an entirely voluntary decision for the good of its customers/the business. It's not surprising that Vodafone was a bit upset at loosing a nice stream of income, but the litigation proves how willingly it adopted the change.


  1. Ideally, there shouldn't be any difference in call prices as one moves between member-states. I'm not sure of the exact reason we have roaming-charges - but I've read that the problem is because we have national operators instead of Europe-wide ones, and there's little competition between them.

  2. I suppose it's the cost of transferring calls and texts between networks. Though, as the court noted, the cost to the consumer is vastly inflated. In my house I can get several different signals depending on what room I'm in - so you can imagine how popular this law is in our house!

    The law is justified (as a temporary measure) as encouraging competition. It's important to note how integrated the network market is already in a way. The traditional big players in the big member states (e.g. Deutsche Telekom and their T-Mobile network and the French and British equivalents) tend to dominate the picture. However, they buy or set up national networks (French Télécom own Orange, for instance), but the level of competition between them all is somewhat doubtful.

    [It should be stressed that this is mostly my impression of the market, rather than something based on a report or study.]