Ina Fried

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Here’s Something Novel: A Carrier That Thinks International Roaming Fees Are Too High

It’s rare to hear a telecommunications provider admit that the industry has been charging too much, but that’s just what Telefonica Germany CEO Rene Schuster did on Wednesday.

Photo Credit: Michael Wagner/(c) FocusOnWagner.de

“Let me be one of the first industry executives to hold up my hand and say the industry has really missed the (boat) and missed an opportunity to be a champion for the consumer,” Schuster said during an onstage interview with AllThingsD’s Ina Fried at the DLDWomen conference in Munich, Germany.

Roaming charges may have made sense at one point, Schuster said, but he added that “it is not justifiable going forward, and the industry will change.”

Schuster said his company has stopped some charges for its customers who roam onto rival’s networks, and also applauded European regulations that are forcing the issue.

“I think by 2014 and 2015, basically, roaming (charges) will be abolished in Europe,” Schuster said. “I think that’s good for everybody.”

Asked about the biggest changes on the horizon, Schuster pointed to the emergence of the smartphone as digital wallet.

“You are probably gong to see the death of the credit card in the next three to four years,” Schuster said. “A lot of purchasing will be done on mobile phones.”

it’s already happening, Schuster said, noting there are already some three million to four million people buying products and services with their phones today.

As for the potential of a comeback for RIM or Nokia, Schuster isn’t holding out much hope.

“Ooof,” Schuster said. “I think they are going to have it very difficult in the future.”


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— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google