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Pan-Europe Net strike called for June

Ten countries' users call for cheaper Net access

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In a rare moment of European harmony and co-operation, ten countries are burying their differences and taking part in an Internet strike designed to force telecoms companies to cut the cost of Net access. Consumers in Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Switzerland and the UK are being urged to boycott all phones and modems for 24 hours on Sunday, 6 June as a show of unity and strength against unfair telco charges. In what could be start of summer of discontent, organisers are calling for: "1. Costs of all telephone calls to more closely mirror the independently audited cost to telecommunications operators of providing these calls, as already mandated by EU law. 2. Introduction of flat-rate charges for, in the first instance, local calls, so that anyone can talk to friends and relatives, and Internet users can dial up to Internet Service Providers using a modem, without worrying about the clock ticking and charges ratcheting up. 3. For any remaining metered calls, abolition of the minimum call charge so that calls are paid for solely by the time spent connected. 4. For Internet users, quicker introduction of modern access methods such as xDSL, cable modems and satellite access, which do not use the telephone modem and are a great improvement on it for users." The boycott is co-ordinated by telecom.eu.org, an umbrella organisation made up of different country pressure groups. European strikes have been held before but with limited success. While the last one in February had some impact in one or two countries, it flopped in the UK, with one activist even admitting that such action was a "dead loss" in the UK. A spokesman for British Telecom said he was aware of the action but said that in the past, the strikes had "no discernible affect on traffic". ®

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