EC 'not against' charges for receiving calls

Commissioner Viviane Reding says business models are up to the operators, but warns on looming regulation for data and SMS roaming charges

Europe's telecommunications chief has said she would not be against mobile operators charging their customers for receiving calls.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Viviane Reding of the European Commission said such business models were "for the operators to decide", adding: "Why not [charge for receiving calls]? The whole market is developing, so we should not stay on the rules that have been in place 10 years." 

Reding reinterated her plan to propose caps on the amount operators can charge for data roaming and sending text messages across borders.

Operators in the US and some other countries routinely charge users for receiving calls as well as making them, but this is not an approach that has thus far been taken in Europe. According to the Financial Times, the imposition of charges for receiving calls is linked with lower overall charges for US consumers — but not having to pay for receiving calls is also linked to Europeans owning more phones.

These lower end-user charges are based on the US having lower 'termination rates' — the charges levied by operators on each other for interconnecting calls — than Europe. Reding wants to see the average termination rate in Europe fall from eight cents to between one and two cents in the next few years. The Financial Times quoted her as saying current European termination rates are "guaranteed money" that cause "real distortion" in the European market.

ZDNet.co.uk has approached all the major operators in the UK for their reaction to Reding's words, but none had responded at the time of writing.

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