Russia and Europe to push on roaming call charges

Russia in talks on roaming tariffs
Russia and European Commission have agreed to work on a partnership agreement allowing Russia to become a member the European roaming model, after a meeting between the Russian Ministry of communications and members of the European commission in Brussels.

­Igor Shchegolev Russian Minister of communications hailed the move saying that the proposed model will improve communications from abroad. 

“We have expressed willingness to join the European model and extend it to Russia. This means that Russian citizens will pay for services according to European tariffs” 

According to the Ministry of Communication experts from both parties will work out the most feasible scheme of cooperation, with the Minister looking for an expedited outcome.

“ The road map can be presented by April and talks on the project should be finished not earlier than in 2012. The Russian side is ready to accelerate talks.” 

Prime Minister Putin stressed the importance of the issue for Russian citizens with Minister for Communications, Igor Shchegolev, prior to Euro commission meeting. 

“We have raised these issues in bilateral negotiations with mobile operators and we continue to push them, but the issue should be addressed to the European Union because the European Union has a single roaming rate, there are two special rules of the European Union, which is compulsory for all participating countries”

Viktor Markov Senior Analyst Zerich Capital Management believes this bilateral agreement could see costs fall for many Russian roaming customers. 
“It is a good sign for Russian citizens and a strong regulatory move to support customers and control tariffs of mobile operators. The price of roaming was earlier addressed by the regulatory body following unjustified overstatement of tariffs. The operators were overpricing roaming tariffs according to their own calculations unproved by the general rules. On the other side foreign operators impose high prices on connection service. Currently, the roaming tariff includes Local operator tariff cost plus foreign operator tariff and additional costs for connection service.  If Russian operators will apply the European roaming model the tariff will exclude the connectivity cost and operators will be able to change and influence the tariffs only according to the European charter which states that the cost of out warded calls should not exceed 49 cents per minute and 24 cents per minute for incoming calls.” 

According to Top Three Russian mobile operator’s statistic data 20 to 30% of revenues comes from roaming services.  Markov says that the implementation of the new scheme for roaming service will not affect operators’ revenues.

“Operators will no longer need to pay for connectivity service thus the price of roaming will decrease but the price of service will remain with customers increase roaming calls”