Vodafone slashes roaming charges

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The Independent Online

Vodafone has joined T-Mobile and Orange in slashing the cost of using a mobile phone overseas, in a move designed to head off the threat of regulatory intervention by the European Commission.

If more European mobile phone companies follow suit, the need for drastic regulation to reduce roaming charges could potentially be allayed.

With O2 and its parent Telefonica also set to dramatically reduce charges within the next two weeks, most UK mobile phone users who travel this summer are likely to benefit from lower prices.

Vodafone is Europe's largest mobile phone company with a presence in 14 EU member states. It will cut the average cost of making a call in Europe to 55 euro cents (38p) compared to 90c last summer. To enable the cut, Vodafone will sign reciprocal agreements with other European operators to reduce the wholesale rate to no more than 45c. Vodafone has already reduced retail roaming prices through its Passport service.

The cuts bring roaming charges closer to domestic rates. The EU telecoms commissioner Viviane Reding wants roaming charges dramatically reduced or abolished by summer 2007. It is unclear whether the European Commission will be satisfied with the pre-emptive price cuts but its representatives maintained plans to table regulations on roaming would still go ahead before the summer.