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Eurobites: Red-Letter Day for Roaming Charges

Paul Rainford

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Ericsson doubles up in Romania; Swisscom goes contactless; mHealth advances in Africa.

  • It's a good day for connected European travelers; but not such a good one for the region's mobile operators perhaps. The latest round of intra-EU roaming price cuts come into force today, more than halving the price cap on mobile data roaming to a maximum of 20 euro cents per megabyte. The caps on making and receiving calls have also come down, by 21% and 28.5% respectively. Also, as from today European mobile operators can allow consumers to choose a local mobile provider for data services in the country they are visiting. But this isn't the end of it: Neelie Kroes, the European Commission 's perma-tweeting vice president for the Digital Agenda, hopes that by the end of the year there will be an agreement to end all roaming charges within the EU. (See Continental Shift.)

    Table 1: Roaming Charges Head South

    Type of mobile activity in the EU 2013 caps (before VAT) 2014 caps (before VAT) Decrease
    Making a call 24 cents per min 19 cents per min 21%
    Receiving a call 7 cents per min 5 cents per min 28.50%
    Sending a text message 8 cents 6 cents 25%
    Downloading data/browsing 45 cents per MB 20 cents per MB 55.50%
    Source: European Commission

    The European Commission employs a timely soccer motif to make its point. Grass could do with a cut, though.
    The European Commission employs a timely soccer motif to make its point. Grass could do with a cut, though.

  • Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) has landed a seven-year managed services deal with Romanian operators Romtelecom S.A. and Cosmote, both of which are subsidiaries of Greece's OTE S.A. Ericsson will assume responsibility for network operations and maintenance of wireline and wireless access, transmission, core and IP domains, as well as network operations for operations support systems, for both companies. Around 730 employees will join Ericsson's Global Services organization under the terms of the deal. No financial details were disclosed.

  • Ericsson has also launched an online "crowdsourcing" project to map ICT-related initiatives in cities in Northern Europe and Central Asia. The aim of the "Get Your City Networked" project is to collect up-to-date location-based information about the cities that will serve as a tool to explore the opportunities offered to cities and their inhabitants by the connected world.

  • Swisscom AG (NYSE: SCM) has launched Tapit, a smartphone app that allows users to make contactless payments, collect loyalty points, and access buildings. Swisscom customers are the first to be able to use the app -- the service will be available to Orange and Sunrise customers later this year. (See Swisscom Launches Tapit.)

  • Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) has sold its 49% stake in Vodafone Fiji to the Fiji National Provident Fund for FJ$160 million (US$87.9 million), though the mobile giant expects to maintain a presence in Fiji through a partner market agreement.

  • ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763) has signed an agreement with Portuguese conglomerate Domingos da Silva Teixeira to foster further collaboration on communications solutions for the transportation and public utilities sectors. The pair signed an initial cooperation agreement in 2012, and the first phase of their joint project, the construction of a north-south backbone network across Portugal, was completed earlier this year. (See ZTE Teams With DST on Utilities, Transport.)

  • The GSM Association (GSMA) has announced an mHealth partnership operating across sub-Saharan Africa, with the focus on maternal and child health. Initial partners in the initiative include Gemalto , MTN Group Ltd. , and Samsung Corp. , and the partnership plans, among other things, to offer discounted Samsung handsets and tablets to consumers and health workers in the region and pre-embed a "smart health" application on 80 million Samsung handsets.

  • The CEO of Comtek Network Systems (UK) Ltd. , a UK telecom repair and support company, has issued a statement expressing his belief that new regulations from Ofcom , which are intended to speed up line repairs and installations for UK phone and broadband customers, should apply to all network providers, and not just BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA)'s Openreach . "My only disappointment is that these regulations only apply to Openreach, rather than all of the UK's wholesale network operators, as this level of service is required by all phone and broadband customers," writes Askar Sheibani.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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    User Rank: Light Sabre
    7/2/2014 | 4:15:28 AM
    Re: 80 million devices
    You're not wrong. A great 'cause' and a great market headlock. It's a win-win!
    User Rank: Light Sabre
    7/1/2014 | 11:57:30 AM
    80 million devices
    80 million devices! Samsung has landed on a goldmine. Through this mhealth deal, it has effectively deterred the entry of other players like Huawei, LG and other low cost device makers. Very smart of Samsung, I must say.
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