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EU says roaming case is soooo last month

Vodafone, O2, and T-Mobile escape anti-trust fines

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Vodafone, O2, and T-Mobile will likely breathe a sigh of relief today after European Union anti-trust authorities decided to close their long-running investigation into alleged excessive charges for international calls.

The European commission confirmed yesterday that it will take no further action over formal charges it issued in 2004 and 2005 against Vodafone UK and Germany, T-Mobile Germany, and O2 UK, the Financial Times reports.

The three mobile telecom giants had been accused of abusing their dominant market position by imposing high fees on customers roaming on their networks while travelling abroad.

Brussels had expressed particular concern over wholesale rates charged in the UK and Germany.

EU competition watchdogs typically conclude such a lengthy investigation either by slapping a fine on a company or agreeing to a settlement.

Last month, however, Brussels secured a new EU law that forces mobile phone companies to cap international call tariffs. As a result, the EU competition commissioner concluded that there was no longer any point in pursuing the anti-trust case.

In the run up to its introduction, mobile operators had bitterly opposed the legislation on roaming fees. But it is a move that has been widely welcomed by customers sick of being hit by excessive mobile phone charges while sipping pina coladas on their hols. ®

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