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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 February 2006, 11:34 GMT
Mobile roaming charges to be cut
The EC's guide to European roaming charges
Greater transparency has failed to reduce roaming charges
European telecom regulators have backed the European Commission's plan to outlaw excessive roaming charges for mobile phone users.

They gave their support at a conference in Paris where EU Telecom Commissioner Viviane Reding outlined her plans.

The proposed law will force mobile phone companies to cut their international roaming charges to the level of domestic cross-network calls.

Draft legislation is to be be published in April.

It will then be considered by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers.

If the two bodies approve the regulations they could come into force in the second half of 2007.

Martin Selmayr, the official spokesman for Ms Reding, said: "We have a green light to go in the right direction."

He said that the regulators had given strong support to Ms Reding's plans and that they were going to work as a team to draft the new regulations.

Fantasy costs

The high cost of using a mobile phone abroad has long been a source of annoyance - and unexpected expense - to mobile phone users.

Consumers continue to pay unreasonably high prices for using their mobile phone abroad
Viviane Reding
EU Commissioner

It is thought that the roaming charges provide mobile phone companies with as much as 20% of their income.

But Ms Reding described the charges as "fantasy costs" because of the minimal extra real expense involved when one mobile phone company carries a call from a foreign visitor.

Since 2000 the charges levied by the various mobile operators have been probed several times by the European Commission.

It has become frustrated at the slow progress in bringing down charges for customers, even though the wholesale charges that operators pay to each other have fallen substantially.

As well as publishing its draft law in April, the Commission will also update its special website - launched last October - which lets people compare roaming charges throughout the 25 members of the European Union.

Ms Reding told the regulator's meeting in Paris that she was becoming increasingly frustrated.

"Prices appear to have remained essentially unchanged," she said.

"Special holiday packages, often referred to as a solution by operators, have not had the expected impact on the market. "Consumers continue to pay unreasonably high prices for using their mobile phone abroad."


SEE ALSO:
EU targets mobile roaming costs
08 Feb 06 |  Business
EU reveals mobile roaming charges
04 Oct 05 |  Business
Brussels raps mobile call charges
10 Feb 05 |  Business
EU probes mobile phone call costs
10 Dec 04 |  Business
Mobile roaming rates are 'unfair'
27 Jul 04 |  Business
UK mobile users 'exploited'
07 Nov 01 |  Business


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