European Commission (EC) vice president Neelie Kroes has hit back at Vodafone's group chief executive, Vittorio Colao, after he complained that regulation from Europe could hinder mobile operators' ability to invest in future 4G networks.
Colao had said on Monday at Mobile World Congress (MWC) that the efforts of the EC to reduce roaming charges by forcing operators to lower mobile termination rate (MTRs) charges and other regulator interventions were having a negative impact on the market.
"Regulators should stop cutting mobile termination rates, pushing down roaming prices, building funny auctions which are designed to extract more money from existing operators, and resisting industry consolidation," Colao said, according to The Guardian.
"This is not a request for a moratorium on competition but a much stronger request for a moratorium on regulation."
In response, though, Kroes said that the comments by Colao did not dissuade her from the belief that lower roaming charges would not only benefit consumer but also operators as well.
"I call your bluff, and indeed do not respond well to threats. I take the side of the Vodafone customer. And I remind everyone that we want to get the mobile sector more spectrum and a bigger market," she said.
"A fair competition in roaming is a good exchange for those opportunities. Remember, if consumers lose their fear of using their smartphones and tablets when travelling across Europe, operators will benefit as well."
European legislators are set to debate proposed changes to the MTRs that operators can charge one another in the coming weeks.
Recently a consortium of small business groups and consumer advocates called on the UK government back calls for even more drastic price cuts than previously proposed.
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