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T-Mobile and Voda face monopoly abuse rap

German roaming costs 'unfair', says EU commission

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The European Competition Commission has accused T-Mobile and Vodafone of charging too much for access to roaming services in Germany. It sent each firm a 'statement of objection', detailing alleged breaches of EC rules on abuse of monopoly powers.

T-Mobile and Vodafone supply network time to domestic and foreign operators. Yet an investigation into the costs of inter-operator tariffs found that both operators used their market position to charge foreign operators "unfair and excessive prices" for network time. According to the EC, T-Mobile abused its dominant position in the German market from 1997 until at least 2003; Vodafone from 2000 until 2003.

During this period, both companies recorded very large profits for roaming services, much larger than profits from comparable domestic services, the Commission says. It added: "The Commission...questions the enormous price differentials between the two fundamentally comparable services".

The Commission says it taking action to prevent European consumers from being overcharged for using their mobile phones when they move around the EU, because the excess costs are passed down to the consumer. "It is thanks to the Commission’s action to coordinate technical standards for mobile phones that people are able to use their mobile phones in other EU countries. The Commission does not want that advantage to be neutralised by high ‘roaming’ prices," it said. ®

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