Most EU mobile operators using new roaming tariffs

The European Commission named and shamed mobile phone companies that have failed to offer their customers new EU maximum tariffs on cross-border mobile phone calls.

Most EU mobile operators using new roaming tariffs
The European Commission named and shamed mobile phone companies that have failed to offer their customers new EU maximum tariffs on cross-border mobile phone calls.

Most of the companies in the 27 EU nations have swiftly offered the new tariffs, which slash the prices in some countries, the EU's executive arm said.

However, a few companies, including Luxembourg's Voxmobile, in which Belgian mobile telecoms group Mobistar has a 90-percent stake, failed to offer its customers the new "roaming" tariffs by July 30 2007, as set out in new EU regulations.

Many more, including big names such as O2 and Virgin Mobile in Britain, O2 in Austria, Tele2 in Sweden were marked in grey on the EU's color-coded list for not having provided any information on their prices. "We hope they have nothing to hide" an EU spokesperson said.

"At last Europeans can breathe a sigh of relief as the EU Roaming Regulation finally becomes binding law across all Member States," said EU Telecom Commissioner Viviane Reding. "We will, however, continue to monitor prices to make sure consumers do not suffer in other ways and to ensure after three years there is no longer a need to regulate," she added.

Around 50 percent of consumers in Europe are already profiting from substantially reduced tariffs, according to the EU figures.

Mobile operators must offer EU subscribers tariffs of no more than €0.49 ($0.67) a minute for cross-border calls within the 27-nation bloc, while receiving a call should cost no more than €0.24.

Mobile phone operators had until midnight Monday to offer the roaming rates and by September 1 must bring them into effect whether customers request them or not.

"Only in a few cases ... we note attempts to delay the effects of the regulation by non-transparent or possibly even anti-competitive behavior," said Reding.

Such practices would be "analyzed very carefully" by national and European regulators, she added, with sanctions possible.

The impact of the new Eurotariff will vary widely among the European Union's 27 member states because rates differ greatly from one country to another, which was the main reason that the caps were deemed necessary.

Before the price ceilings, variations between member states could be huge with a four-minute call for a French customer traveling in Italy costing €4.72 while a four-minute call by a Cypriot in Belgium could set a user back €12.00.

The cheapest rates listed by the EU were from Britain's 3 network, offering outgoing roaming calls for 31.57 cents a minute and incoming for 12.63 cents.

Among the 'black sheep' operators, as the Commission put it, Cytamobile in Cyprus will only be offering the new lower rates August 30.

No mobile operators in Latvia replied to the Commission's questionnaire on prices.

The EU's naming and shaming, as well as praising, roaming rate Web site can be found on ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/roaming/implementation/benchmark.

Agencies
Last Mod: 03 Ağustos 2007, 16:40
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