Mobile users may face fee to take calls
Mobile phone users may have to pay to receive calls, as they do in the US, the telecoms regulator said on Thursday. Ofcom called for “careful consideration” of the case for billing mobile users for receiving as well as making calls.
This would be a sweeping change, and UK mobile operators say their customers are set against the idea. Ofcom has raised the issue, however, because it wants to provoke debate over the charges that mobile operators impose on one another for connecting calls to their networks.
Ofcom sets caps on these wholesale charges, known as termination rates. Its existing price controls regime does not expire until 2011 so the earliest that users might start being billed for receiving calls is still three years away.
But Viviane Reding, European commissioner for telecoms, told the Financial Times in June that termination rates were far too high and wrongly amounted to “guaranteed money” for mobile operators. The charges represent about 15 per cent of their revenues.
In the US, termination rates are set at close to zero, and mobile users there pay lower charges per minute compared with their counterparts in many European Union countries. However, US mobile operators require their customers to pay for receiving calls.