European Union to tackle "unjustified" cost of using mobile phones abroad

The EU said Tuesday it will force mobile phone companies to scrap the "unjustified" high cost of using a mobile phone abroad after companies failed to cut prices over the past six months.

The European Commission said it would draft a law to eliminate all unjustified roaming charges.

"A mobile phone customer should not be charged a higher tariff just because he is traveling abroad," said EU Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding.

The Commission published new figures on a "name-and-shame" Web site showing that Finnish customers pay just 20 euro cents (24 U.S. cents) for a four-minute call home from Sweden while Maltese customers are slapped with a 13.05 euros (US$15.69) fee to ring from Latvia.

Some companies had increased prices since the Web site first went live in September 2005. One British operator upped the roaming charge from 3.45 euros (US$4.15) to 4.92 euros (US$5.92) for calls from the EU.

The Commission said many customers have not taken up special roaming packages offered by some companies because most are only available on an "opt-in" basis or for an extra fee.

EU leaders called for lower roaming charges last Friday. Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern told reporters that other governments should follow his example and push companies to cut or even drop "excessively costly" charges.

The Commission's roaming Web site is supposed to help consumers find the best deal by showing them costs charged in September 2005 by their home phone company and the network of the country they are visiting.

EU antitrust regulators started investigating "excessive" roaming prices in 2000, leading to charges against German and British phone companies for abusing their monopoly power. The cases are ongoing , reports the AP.

D.M.

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Author`s name: Editorial Team