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Cypriot mobile operators need to prepare for roaming-charge abolition

ΜOBILE operators in Cyprus have to make some investments to provide services for tourists visiting the country in view of the axing of roaming charges in the EU from next June, Vice-President of the European Commission for the Digital Single Market, Andrus Ansip, said on Friday.

Briefing parliament in Nicosia, the Commissioner said that abolishing roaming charges, would not be an easy task for Cyprus because of the difference between inbound and outbound traffic which is the second biggest in the EU.

Replying to MEPs comments that the future abolition of roaming charges would overburden mobile operators in Cyprus who serve millions of tourists visiting the island, the Commissioner said that the example of other countries such as Finland, shows that when consumption rises, the cost reduces. The EU hopes to abolish roaming charges as of June 15.

The Commissioner also said that digital development in Cyprus was going in the right direction, adding that “you have to be patient”. He also noted Cyprus` success story regarding its e-procurement system and pointed out that the country has to improve its e-government system and implement the digital signature.
“Digitalisation is a global process, this train is moving and we have to be on this train. We will not be able to stop it, even if somebody wants to,” he said.
Ansip also said that the EU has to create a single market in the EU by tearing the digital barriers separating the member-states, because the cost of a non-Europe in digital terms was huge. According to reports prepared by the European Parliament this could be as much as €415 billion per year.
He also referred to the benefits of a digital economy in terms of creating new jobs, but also stressed that member-state governments and European institutions have to help those people who will lose their jobs because of the new digital economy, by training them to obtain new skills.

The importance of the Digital Single Market for the EU and Cyprus was also discussed during a public event at EU House in Nicosia where Ansip said: “For Cyprus it is especially important to go digital as fast as possible, because trade had a really important place in Cyprus during the centuries. Trade, economy, life is becoming more and more digital` he said, adding that if Cyprus does not speed up, another country may undertake the role of bridge among Arab and European countries.
He referred to the European Digital Agenda, which includes 16 aims, and to its importance in the development of competitiveness in Europe.
In his speech, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism, Digital Champion Stelios Himonas, said that based on the DESI index, Cyprus is ranked 23rd in Europe.
“We have a lot of room for improvement` he said, adding that in matters of connectivity Cyprus does well, but 26 per cent of the population has never used the internet,” he said, while only ten per cent still use the web for bank transactions or tax returns.

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