The cost of calls between mobile phones and fixed networks is to be investigated by the European Commission.
Such charges have already come under fire in the UK last year when telecomms watchdog Oftel slammed the cost of calls from BT?s fixed line to mobile phones as being too high. Oftel director general Don Cruickshank urged charges to be cut by one-third.
Yesterday the EC said it had received a number of similar ?concerns? from other members states.
Said an EC spokesperson: ?The objective is to open up mobile communications for more EU citizens. Any citizen across Europe must have access to mobile communications and pro-competitive markets are an essential element to achieve this.?
The EC will investigate the controversial issue of interconnection rates -- the price charged between operators for carry calls on each other?s network.
According to the EC rates between fixed and mobile networks can be up to fourteen times higher than charges between fixed operators. For fixed phone users it is six times more expensive to call mobile phones than other land devices.
EC officials want assurances that the incumbent fixed wire operators, such as BT in the UK, apply the same interconnection conditions to mobile operators as to other fixed wire telcos. Mobile operators will have to prove that they also charge the same to all fixed and mobile suppliers.
Oftel is also due to issue a statement on the cost of calls to mobile phones soon. Last March the watchdog said BT-based calls to Cellnet and Vodafone at 32p per minute was too high and should come down by 10p. Today it costs 31.9p per minute to connect to a Vodafone network from a BT phone, though a Vodafone spokesperson said it has agreed a new interconnection rate with BT which should significantly lower the cost of calls within five years.
In July BT cut the cost of calls to Vodafone and Cellnet by one penny to 36.5p per minute, with evening calls being reduced to 22p. Weekend calls were also reduced by two pence to 10.5 pence per minute. An Oftel spokesperson said this was still too high.
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