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San Francisco is the most expensive city in the US to own a mobile phone, a survey claims.

Residents of San Fran pay an average of $43.34 per month to run one of the devices, around $7 more than in Atlanta, and almost $5 above the national average.

The second most costly place to own a mobile is Cincinnati, where users pay $41.81 per month, according to the report by US research firm Econ One, which checked prices in 25 major US cities across four different plans - 30, 150, 300 and 600 minutes - during March.

Los Angeles had the third highest rates with $40.80, followed by Boston ($40.67) and New York ($40.40).

But average mobile phone costs are slowly dropping. Compared to February, costs were down in 16 cities. San Francisco saw the biggest reduction, with prices down two per cent.

Surprisingly, costs actually rose in five cities, including Miami (up 2.8 per cent) and Tampa (up 1.8 per cent). Prices remained unchanged in the other four cities.

For the second month running Atlanta was the cheapest place to own a mobile - monthly fees fell 1.1 per cent to $36.43.

Users in the US often have to buy mobile phone plans with a bumper pack of minutes - even if they don't plan to make many calls during the month, they still have to pay by the minute to receive calls.

"Local cost changes continue to be driven by one or two plan changes rather than sweeping introductions of new pricing schemes," said Charles Mahla, Econ One senior analyst.

"It doesn't take much in the way of specific plan changes - one or two small alterations to a plan will do to see the kinds of changes in costs we are now witnessing." ®

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Econ One survey

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