Page last updated at 16:16 GMT, Thursday, 26 June 2008 17:16 UK

EU acts to cut mobile phone costs

Mobile phone user
Europe's telecoms watchdogs aims to make mobile phone calls cheaper

The European Commission plans to cut the cost of mobile phone calls by reducing the fees operators charge each other for using their networks.

Europe's telecoms watchdog published guidelines for laws to harmonise so-called call termination fees across the European Union by 2011.

Currently, 27 national authorities regulate fees charged by an operator for handling calls from another.

Brussels said consumers ended up paying for variations in cross-border fees.

Calling for change

The consumer pays the price for these gaps between national regulatory policies
Viviane Reding, EU telecoms commissioner

According to EU figures, call termination charges range from 2 euro cents per minute in Cyprus to 18 euro cents in Bulgaria.

The fees that operators levy for switching callers between each other's networks are, on average, nine times higher than those on fixed-line networks.

The Commission said it was these charges that were, in part, to blame for mobile calls being more expensive than fixed-line calls in the EU.

EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding said: "The consumer pays the price for these gaps between national regulatory policies."

Operators have until 2011 to abide by the new regulations, which the Commision estimated would make calls 70% cheaper.

Last year, Ms Reding set limits on roaming charges for mobile phone calls across the EU, and the industry has a 1 July deadline to slash the cost of texts across the EU.

But the industry body, the GSM Association, opposed the move.

It claimed operators would struggle to absorb the cut in termination charges and consumers might end up paying for more for a mobile phone as a result.

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