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European telecoms regulators this week launched an investigation into the cost of using a mobile phone abroad. Concerns of the high cost of international roaming charges sparked the probe by the European Regulators Group (ERG), which brings together national regulatory authorities, supported by the European Commission.

The expense and complexity of international roaming charges have long been an issue of concern for the Commission. Mobile operators across the EU will be sent a questionnaire by national regulators today in a development that ultimately lead to the imposition of tighter regulation. These could include direct controls on wholesale international roaming rates, which should, in turn, result in lower prices for consumers. The ERG intends to present "some preliminary results" by May 2005.

Viviane Reding, information society and media commissioner, said: “I am fully aware, both as a policymaker and as a consumer, of the impact that high roaming charges have on EU citizens and on the competitiveness of our industry. Whether we travel on business or for leisure, many of us have had an unpleasant surprise when the next bill arrived. I hope that today’s initiative of the European Regulators Group will help us to identify remaining competition problems in the 25 Member States and to resolve these as soon as possible.”

The review will run along side an anti-trust investigation into Vodafone and O2's alleged abuse of market dominance in setting wholesale roaming rates, which began in July 2004. ®

Related stories

Mobile operators face EC action over roaming
EC accuses Vodafone, O2 of overcharging
Brussels to charge Vodafone and O2 over roaming
Operators tout FreeMove easy roaming alliance
Operators wake up to mobile enterprise needs

Related links

European Regulators Group's statement (PDF) on its investigation

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