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Europe acts on mobile charges

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The European Commission yesterday released details of its plan to push down termination rates - the charges mobile phone networks make for carrying each others calls.

The Commission noted that rates, although falling, are still nine times as high as equivalent fixed line charges and vary widely across Europe. The Commission wants to see charges fall by about 70 per cent. Charges range from €0.02 in Cyprus to €0.18 in Bulgaria. By comparison average fixed line termination charges are €0.0057

Viviane Reding, Telecoms Commissioner, said: "Call termination markets in the EU need a regulatory plumber. Over the next 3 years, I expect greater consistency and coordination to bring the costs for mobile phone calls down by around 70 per cent from the current level." Reding belives that current arrangements are unfair to smaller operators.

Vodafone said the changes would make owning a mobile more expensive for consumers. But 3 said there was no reason for handset subsidies to reduce or for charges to go up.

The Commission does not rule out US-style "pay-to-receive" charges saying it is a decision for the operators.

The mobile industry has until 3 September to respond to the Commission proposals.

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