Text-happy Brits need deep pockets

UK mobile phone users pay more for sending text messages than everyone else in Europe, except Spain

Sending a text message in the UK is up to four times more expensive than in Cyprus or Denmark, according to communications consultancy, Broad Group, which published the statistics in its Mobile Data Pricing study.

According to the survey, the cheapest places in Europe to send text messages are Cyprus, Denmark and Norway, where the average text message costs between 2.4 pence and 4.2 pence. The most expensive text messages are sent in Spain (11 pence), followed closely by the UK (10.4 pence) and Sweden (9.7 pence).

Oftel, the UK telecoms regulator, says competition in the UK text messaging market is healthy and does not think that intervention is necessary. However, later this month an EU directive will be introduced that is designed to create closer ties between the member states regulatory bodies, which in the longer term, could mean less discrepancy between countries.

An Oftel spokesman told ZDNet UK: "More than ever we are in touch with Europe. A set of European directives will become EU law on 25 July and they will harmonise regulation across the member states." Oftel doesn't expect the law to have an immediate impact.

Text messaging was first introduced more than five years ago, but it was not until operators enabled users to text across the different networks that the technology was widely used. Around 55 million text messages are sent in the UK every day and this figure is increasing by 25 percent each year. In May 2003 alone, Britons sent a total of 1.7 billion text messages.


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