EC concern at ‘per min’ charges


The European Commission has reduced its call roaming price cap further and said it is now concerned network operators are overcharging customers by billing them per minute for calls, rather than per second.

On August 30, the Eurotariff fell from €0.49 to €0.46 per minute to make a call and €0.24 to €0.22 per minute to receive a call.

EU telecoms commissioner Viviane Reding (pictured) has expressed concern networks are charging by the minute rather than second for calls made while travelling between EU countries.

She suggested they are overcharging customers by an average of 24 per cent – a call lasting five minutes and four seconds is rounded up to six minutes when billing, for example.

The GSM Association (GSMA), the industry body representing the airtime providers, has argued networks should have the right to set their own prices in a competitive market place as long as this was made clear to customers.

The association said such a move would be "micromanagement" and would risk further erosion of competitive differentiation in the market.

A GSMA spokesman said: "Billing increments are a point of differentiation that operators can use to appeal to customers with different preferences.

"For example, operators may want to offer some tariffs with lower per minute charges, that are billed in 30 or 60 second increments and other tariffs with higher per minute charges, but smaller incremental billing units; for example, per second or per 10 seconds."

The GSMA said as long as operators are transparent on billing, such flexibility in charges  is appropriate.