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EC slashes mobile roaming charges

Antony Savvas

The European Commission has outlined its plans to cut the cost of using mobile phones abroad by up to 70%.

Roaming charges are estimated to earn the mobile operators around £6bn a year, or up to 15% of their profits. The Commission says its changes will reduce these roaming earnings by around £3.5bn a year.

The reduced roaming charges will benefit business travellers in particular, as they represent an estimated 80% of the EU citizens who pay roaming fees.

The Commission has said the maximum cost of calling home from abroad should now be 34p per minute.

It adds that the maximum cost of a local call made abroad using a foreign mobile should be 23p per minute. In addition, the maximum cost of receiving a call while abroad should be 11p per minute. These rates only apply for calls made to or from EU countries.

The GSM Association, which represents the mobile operators, is opposed to the price cuts, claiming that its members were already bringing down prices under their own steam.

The association said these reductions would bring down the average cost of roaming by 40%, but the Commission said the industry was not working towards reductions quickly enough.

The Commission is aiming to enforce the new maximum roaming charges by the summer of 2007. Its proposals will now go before the European parliament and EU government states to be approved.


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