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Cyprus Internet Directory [ The bid for better telecommunications in Europe ]

The bid for better telecommunications in Europe

THOSE OF you who travelled abroad this summer may have a pleasant surprise waiting for them when they come back home: a lower mobile phone bill!

As of July 1, new EU regulation makes communication from abroad more accessible to all Europeans. More specifically, from July onwards, sending a text message from abroad in the EU costs a maximum €0.11 – almost three times cheaper than the previous EU average of €0.28 (VAT excl.).

Moreover, to make a roamed call in another EU country must not cost more than €0.43 per minute and no more than €0.19 to receive a call, while, from July 1, outgoing roaming calls will be charged by the second, after the first 30 seconds, rather than by the minute, and incoming calls will be charged by the second from the first second.

This is certainly a major development for European users of mobile phones – which is practically everyone. We all remember what it was like to make a phone call from abroad just a few months ago. We all heard horror stories of huge phone bills, as was the case of the Englishman who was sent a bill of £31,000 after downloading an episode of his favorite show while on holiday in Portugal.

As a result of several complaints from consumers Europe-wide, the European Commission took up determined action to eliminate the so-called “roaming rip-off”. In a special section of its website, the European Commission allows consumers to find information on discrepancies in charges between providers in each European country and even an overview of tariff evolution since 2006. It is there that we realise that, for example, sending an SMS from Belgium to Cyprus could cost you €0.26 in March 2006, while today it only costs €0.13.

Of course consumers already enjoy considerable rights under the EU’s 2002 Telecoms Rules, which cover transparency in telecommunication tariffs, the single Europe-wide freephone emergency number ‘112’, protection against spam and malicious software etc., while they ensure that basic communication services are available and affordable to all Europeans, including consumers with special needs or disabilities.

These rights were further strengthened with the 2007 EU Telecoms Reform which provided for better information on prices, easier and trouble-free change of provider, improved emergency access through ‘112’, access to freephone numbers from abroad, better privacy and security, greater access and guaranteed ‘net’ freedoms etc.

Nevertheless, EU telecommunications policy is not restricted to securing better quality of services for European citizens. Consistent to its traditional policy of promoting knowledge and research, the EU will invest €18 million, as of January 1, 2010, into research that will underpin next generation 4G mobile networks.

Research on Long Term Evolution (LTE) Advanced technology (LTE-Advanced) will offer mobile internet speeds up to a hundred times faster than current 3G networks (currently, LTE wireless technology provides mobile internet speeds of up to 100 megabits per second, that is ten times faster than 3G mobile networks). Taking under consideration the boost that EU-funded research gave to the GSM standard back in the 1980s, it is natural to expect that, in a few years, LTE will constitute a similar success story that will benefit Europeans in many ways:

– by boosting the capacities of network operators, therefore, enabling them to provide faster mobile broadband to more users at lower prices,

– by propelling mobile broadband speeds up to 1 gigabit per second, thus allowing users to fully benefit from online services such as high quality TV or video on demand

– by using radio spectrum more effectively, therefore enabling mobile networks to benefit from the “digital dividend” and use the frequencies freed by the switchover from analogue to digital TV, thus allowing signals to travel further and reduce the number of antenna sites needed to achieve the same network coverage, preserving Europe’s landscapes and reducing energy consumption

– by bringing mobile broadband to less populated regions and contribute to the reduction of the “digital divide” between rural and urban areas.

Overall, in 2007-2013, the European Union will invest more than €700 million into research on future networks. Half of it will be allocated to wireless technologies. The European Union is not alone in this bid for better quality at better price in telecommunications for Europeans.

Member states, as well as leading telecommunications operators are also keen to contribute now, as they have in the past. We are all looking forward to yet another positive outcome of their co-operation that will allow all of us in Europe to communicate better and faster.

Androulla Kaminara is the Head of the European Commission Representation in Cyprus

The website for tariffs can be found at:

(Source: Cyprus Mail)
Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2008 Please contact Cyprus Mail for the copyright terms of this article.

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