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Reding to put cap on ‘rip-off’ text fees

16 июля 2008

Europe’s senior telecommunications regulator attacked “rip-off” charges for text messages sent while abroad as she announced plans on Tuesday to introduce price caps for the service.

Viviane Reding, European Union telecoms commissioner, set out her intention to bring legislation that could cut the fees that consumers pay by about two-thirds from the middle of next year.

Her move drew criticism from much of Europe’s mobile phone industry. Operators argue that prices are already falling.

The industry was enraged last year by a law spearheaded by Ms Reding that forced operators to slash lucrative charges for mobile phone calls made while in another EU country.

In February, Ms Reding gave mobile phone groups until July 1 to cut the fees that they charge Europeans to send a text message – also known as an SMS – while visiting another EU state.

She told the industry to cut the price from the then average of 29 euro cents to 12 euro cents, on the grounds that the charges were well above the cost of providing the service.

But she declared on Tuesday that there had been barely any change in prices, and made plain her intention to intervene.

“EU citizens should be free to text across borders without being ripped off,” she said. “The roaming [text] price continues to be 10 times higher than the domestic price for SMS.”

In an interview with the Financial Times, Ms Reding was asked why she thought the industry had failed to heed her warning.

“They [the operators] like to squeeze the possibilities until the last moment and get the maximum out.”

Ms Reding maintains that a price cap of between 11 euro cents and 13 euro cents per roamed text message would be appropriate, with a long-term goal of 4.2 cents.

The GSMA, a lobby group for operators, said that according to its analysis in the past year “the average price of SMS roaming services in the EU has declined by 18 per cent”.

Источник: Financial Times

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