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Summer roaming mobile cut-price calls put at risk by tiffs

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Moves to cut mobile roaming costs by the summer have been thrown into doubt as MEPs and European governments cannot agree on the details of the scheme.

Efforts to reach a compromise before a vote scheduled for next week have proved unsuccessful and the timetable for tying up a deal before the peak summer period is now in doubt as the wrangles continue.

MEPs and ministers cannot agree on the pricing level and whether all users would benefit automatically. A compromise suggestion set the maximum cost for making an international call on an overseas network at 45 euro cents (30p) per minute and 20 cents (14p) per minute for receiving a call.

The German government representing EU member states has proposed caps of 60 cents and 30 cents respectively.

Many mobile users currently pay one euro (68p) per minute to make a call abroad.

Some governments, including the UK, have argued that too low a price would mean that the phone companies would have to increase the price of domestic calls.

“An inflexible proposal which denies mobile phone users choice and could lead to much higher charges on our subsidised handsets is not on,” British Industry minister Margaret Hodge was quoted as saying on Thursday. 

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