Forever on the warpath over what she sees as unfair telecoms pricing strategies in the European Union, the EU's digital commissioner, Neelie Kroes, is now shaming operators over the huge price differences that exist between domestic mobile calls.
Depending on where you live, the European Commission noted you could be paying as little as €0.019 or as much as €0.147 per minute. This represents a 774 per cent difference between the cheapest price, which is available in Lithuania, and the highest price charged in the Netherlands. Apparently Dutch consumers are paying a lot more than most to chat on their mobile phones.
For Kroes, this is further grist to the mill in her efforts to unite the EU with a common set of regulations, including controversial elements such as the abolition of roaming charges. She plans to present a package aimed at creating a single market for telecoms in September.
"As these numbers clearly show, the 28 national telecoms markets in Europe today are not benefitting consumers like a single market would," Kroes said in a statement this week. "It is critical for the whole EU to move quickly to build a real single market to achieve a truly connected continent."
The Commission notes that mobile calls vary in price far more than do other basic goods and services: for example, a litre of milk can be bought for between €0.69 and €0.99, meaning a 43 per cent variation across the EU. An occasional purchase like an Apple iPad is subject to only an 11 per cent price difference across the EU.
The Commission also points out that the 774 per cent difference in mobile calls cannot be explained by "differences in quality, differences in the cost to provide the service, or by differences between countries in consumer purchasing power."
- see this EU release
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