EU Commission unveils plan to cap cost of phone calls
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The cost of cross border phone calls in Europe will be capped to the price of a long-distance domestic call, the European Commission proposed on Wednesday, announcing plans to further harmonise the EU's telecoms market.
The proposal, which also suggests capping the price for users taking calls on a mobile while travelling in Europe, suggests granting the EU veto power over sales of mobile spectrum by member countries.
"The European Commission says no to roaming premiums, yes to net neutrality, yes to investment, yes to new jobs," EU telecoms chief Neelie Kroes said in a statement.
The reform is designed to encourage telecoms companies to invest more in broadband network infrastructure, ensuring that European citizens can download data from the Internet as quickly as their counterparts in Asia and North America.
The Commission also hopes limiting telephony costs in the bloc where international mobile calls vary from 35 cents to 1.19 euros per minute will benefit businesses. It said the projected 0.5 percent fall in operators' revenues will be offset by more usage.
It may, however, struggle to get the blessing it requires from all 28 EU governments and the European Parliament for it to become law.
While they would likely back lower call prices, the proposed veto could make it harder for governments to tap an important source of revenue.
The proposal includes better coordination of the sales of mobile spectrum by EU countries and veto power by the Commission. It would allow operators to charge more for carrying traffic at higher speeds.
The Commission also said it would seek feedback on the possibility of creating a single EU regulator for the industry, a sensitive issue for countries wary of losing power to the European Union's executive.
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee and Claire Davenport; editing by John O'Donnell and Elaine Hardcastle)
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