European mobile users paying £8.3bn a year in ‘spurious’ charges

Europeans are paying over £8.3bn a year in "spurious" mobile...

Europeans are paying over £8.3bn a year in "spurious" mobile termination charges.

The European Competitive Telecommunications Association (ECTA), which looks after the regulatory and commercial interests of new entrant telecoms operators, claims "lucrative" wholesale charges imposed by incumbent mobile operators for connecting calls to each other's networks are both "excessive and discriminatory".

As a result, it says, European consumers are being penalised. The pro-competition group has called on the European Commission to enforce a cut in these charges when it publishes proposals on termination rates later this month.

ECTA says the current average EU mobile termination rate is 7.5p a minute, although rates between member states and between networks vary significantly.

The European Commission has previously said it wants to see mobile termination rates cut to between 0.8p and 0.2p per minute by 2012.

ECTA believes current mobile termination charges are not based on costs, and that they distort competition as they allow big operators to offer their large customer bases calls within their networks that do not attract termination charges - making it difficult for smaller, fixed and mobile new entrant operators to compete.

Innocenzo Genna, chairman of ECTA, said, "Customers have for years faced excessive prices because of the very high termination rates being charged when they make calls to mobile numbers. Our estimate is that over the last ten years, across the 27 EU countries, this amounts to a total in excess of £83.3bn of consumers' money."

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