Saturday, June 28, 2008

Europe - costs of mobile

'Bill-shock' thwarting downloads in Europe, study finds
see also EC press release and report

European Union consumers are not using their laptops to download songs and videos when traveling abroad because they are afraid of receiving large bills and are not aware of price specifics, according to an EU-financed study.

The report by Connect2Roam found that "bill-shock" was one of the major problems for developing data services as "consumers are discouraged by extremely high charges when compared to national prices," the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, said in a statement Friday.

"A big problem with data roaming is transparency," Viviane Reding, the EU's telecommunications commissioner, said in the statement. "Operators should therefore better inform consumers and business people when they are abroad."

Reding is leading a campaign to cut mobile-roaming fees, saying the 27-nation EU represents a single domestic market. Consumers spend five to six times more to download photos, music and e-mails on mobile devices when abroad than when in their home countries, according to Reding.

The commission is considering adding data and text messages, known as short-message services or SMS services to a regulation last year that capped prices for voice calls made outside a local service area, so-called roaming. Operators have until July 1 to submit prices to the commission.

The commission will evaluate the prices and decide by mid-July whether data services should be regulated, Martin Selmayr, Reding's spokesman, said at a regulator briefing.

Reding set a goal in February, telling the industry to limit retail prices for sending an SMS to no more than 12 euro cents, or 19 cents, and wholesale prices for other data to a maximum 35 cents a megabyte.

"We'll wait for a little miracle to happen on Monday for data and text message prices to go down voluntary," Selmayr said.

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