Friday, February 29, 2008

Better treated in Belarus than in Brussels

Telecoms firms treated better in Belarus than Brussels: mobile operator

Mobile phone companies are treated better in Belarus than in the European Union, the head of Telekom Austria said in an interview published Friday.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Boris Nemsic criticised EU plans to implement regulation if mobile phone companies do not cut their roaming charges for text messages and Internet use by July.

"We have been much better treated in Belarus than in Brussels," he told the business daily, after his company bought a 70 percent stake in a Belarus mobile phone operator.

"That's not a political statement. That's a business statement."

EU communications commissioner Viviane Reding told mobile phone company chiefs at the industry's annual trade show in Barcelona earlier this month that they would not be allowed to "rip off" EU citizens who travel in the 27-member bloc.

The EU has already regulated the roaming cost of phone calls within the region.

"The European Commission says it's one market. But it's done nothing to make it one market. They're simply taking the low-hanging fruit in populist ways ... The framework isn't there but the Commission is regulating retail prices," Nemsic told the FT, urging them instead to create a framework for the future.

"The liberalisation of telecommunications (in Europe) was successful. Competition was established and it works. But you can't make more competition by regulating prices. If we get the same prices (because of regulation) there will be no competition."

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