In an effort to increase transparency for mobile phone users, the European Commission Tuesday launched a Web site detailing the roaming charges customers pay while traveling abroad. The site shows, for example, that a U.K. T-Mobile International AG user making a call while in Slovenia will pay EUR8.22 a minute, while an O2 PLC user will pay EUR3.45 a minute. These comparisons are designed “to help to encourage transparency and inform consumers how to get the best deal,” said Viviane Reding, the European commissioner in charge of telecommunications regulation.
“We want consumers to ask for lower prices and the companies to offer them,” Reding added.
The Commission and national regulators have been investigating mobile phone roaming charges for almost a decade. Since December, the Commission has been examining the international roaming wholesale prices that mobile operators charge each other.
National regulators, since May, have also been studying their mobile-phone markets and are due to notify the Commission on the state of competition and consumer protections by the end of the year. The Commission has also taken action against offending companies. In 2004, the Commission warned two U.K. mobile operators, Vodafone Group PLC and T-Mobile, that their wholesale roaming charges were too high. Earlier this year, two German operators, Vodafone Germany and 02, received a similar warning.
With its new Web site, the Commission says it will now have consumers’ help in its ongoing battle to lower mobile phone charges. Commission officials say the new site is similar to a Commission Web site comparing car prices throughout Europe. That Web site has helped lower prices by informing consumers’ choices, the officials said.
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