France wants mobile operators to slash SMS rates

France is calling on mobile companies to cut text messages prices after publishing a study that shows prices charged by the country's three main operators have not fallen much over the past three to four years, a Reuters report said.

Luc Chatel, France's junior minister responsible for consumer goods and a government spokesman, as quoted by the Reuters report saying that he would 'write to operators to make them aware of the difficulties of consumers with low budgets.'

He would also 'invite them to launch a reduction plan for the price of single SMS.'

Record high inflation which erodes consumers' purchasing power has become a top political concern for the French government.

Quoting a study produced by the French telecoms regulator Arcep, Chatel noted that SMSs sold without a subscription cost on average 12 euro cents since the summer of 2004 while the volume of SMSs exchanged had 'more than doubled' since.

The Arcep study pointed at the prices charged by operators Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecom.

It said that mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) that bought minutes wholesale from the three mobile operators offered SMS prices between 25% to 30% cheaper.

Chatel also said the price of SMSs sent from abroad remained high, more than twice the price of SMSs sent within France.

France's call comes as European Union Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding is moving to force EU operators to slash by roughly two thirds the cost of text messages for people traveling between EU countries.