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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 March 2006, 13:48 GMT 14:48 UK
EU cracks down on mobile charges
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Mobile operators say competition, not regulation, is the key
Mobile phone users could pay less for making calls from abroad to their country of origin, under proposals put forward by the European Commission.

The Commission said it would draft a law to crack down on "unjustified" high charges for using mobile phones abroad.

The proposals seek to scrap all roaming charges for receiving a call when travelling abroad in the EU.

They also aim to make the cost of calls made abroad the same as those made in the user's country of origin.

User website

Last year, EU Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding launched an EU website publicising the charges travellers faced making and receiving calls on their mobile phones in other European countries.

MOBILE COSTS ABROAD
Sample tariffs for four-minute peak time call in March 2006. Prices vary according to which UK network and host network are used. Source: European Commission

Calling the UK from Italy: 3.5-5.81 euros (2.42-4)
Receiving a call in Italy from the UK: 1.75-5.50 euros (1.21-3.80)

Calling the UK from Malta: 3.5-7.34 euros (2.42-5.06)
Receiving a call in Malta from the UK: 1.75-5.50 euros (1.21-3.80)

Calling France from Germany: 4 euros (2.76)
Receiving a call in Germany from France: 1.36-1.88 euros (94p-1.30)

However, the move did little to cut roaming charges, the Commission said, and in some cases, prices increased.

"It is high time that the EU's internal market delivered substantially lower communication charges for consumers and business people travelling abroad," said Ms Reding.

"I therefore propose that an EU regulation be used to eliminate all unjustified roaming charges.

"A mobile phone customer should not be charged a higher tariff just because he is travelling abroad."

The proposed legislation will require the approval of the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers.

Competition 'best solution'

Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein bank analyst John Davies said roaming income accounted for 8% to 15% of operators' revenues and usually carried higher margins.

Further roaming regulation is unnecessary and could have unforeseen consequences
Rob Conway, GSM Association

Mobile phone operators say they have already acted to keep down roaming prices. They say calls abroad cost more than domestic call charges, because there are additional costs involved in delivering calls through foreign networks.

The EU's proposals came under criticism from mobile operators.

"Since they have not properly represented and defined what the problem is we don't think the solution is a sensible one and will have adverse and unintended consequences," said Richard Feasey, Vodafone director of public policy.

In a statement, T-Mobile said that it should be left to the market to decide mobile phone charges.

The GSM Association, the industry's global trade body, said that roaming charges had fallen by an average of 8% across Europe last year and that legislation was not needed.

"Further roaming regulation is unnecessary and could have unforeseen consequences," said Rob Conway, chief executive of the GSM Association.

"While we believe that competition is the best way to meet the needs of customers across the whole range of mobile services, the GSMA membership will continually explore ways in which further industry action might address particular concerns of customers and other stakeholders."




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See how the proposals could benefit mobile phone users



SEE ALSO:
Mobile roaming charges to be cut
09 Feb 06 |  Business
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


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