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EC plans to name and shame rip-off mobile operators

Charges still 'too high'

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The European Commission (EC) plans to name and shame mobile phone operators who rip-off punters for making calls while travelling abroad.

Although Eurocrats are warning punters to be on their guard as the peak holiday season approaches, the web site it intends to set up detailing the inflated international roaming fees charged by some operators will not be up and running until the Autumn.

Once operational, though, it will list the prices charged by EU mobile operators for people to use their mobiles while overseas.

It points out, for example, that the cost of using a mobile overseas can range between 58 cents (40p) to €5 (£3.50) a minute.

In a statement the EC said: "In spite of first signs of movement in the markets, the Commission is not satisfied that the prices to be paid by consumers already reflect the result of effective competition.

"The Commission therefore will take measures to enhance the transparency of international mobile roaming charges to allow consumers the choice of the best offer."

Tope Eurocrat Viviane Reding chipped in: "Using your mobile phone while on holiday abroad can still lead to very unpleasant surprises.

"I am convinced that substantially more progress from the industry is both necessary and possible. We need to get to a stage where consumers can benefit from better deals than they are currently getting."

In December, European telecoms regulators began 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.

One of the conclusions reached so far by the ERG is the fact that retail charges are currently "very high without clear justification". ®

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Friday 10th December 2004 10:43 GMT

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