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Tuesday, May 21, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Germany’s 300 Percent Telecom Fee Hike Curbed

(CN) - The European Commission blocked a plan in Germany to charge network providers call-delivery fees 300 percent higher than the EU average.

Earlier this year, the German telecom regulator BNetzA told EU regulators it intended to use its own method of calculating termination rates, which are the rates telecom networks charge each other to deliver calls between networks. While EU law allows member states to set their own termination charges, European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes said Germany's plan would hurt the common market.

"My job is to deliver a single market for telecoms for all EU citizens," Kroes said in a statement. "All EU countries - big and small - have signed up to, and are implementing, the rules which put this in place. No country can be allowed to divert us from this goal."

She added: "I urge BNetzA to bring forward a new proposal that delivers lower consumer prices and helps us build a telecoms single market."

For countries that follow the commission's approach, the average termination fee is less than two-tenths of a cent. Germany planned to charge three-tenths of a cent for off-peak calls and nearly half a cent per minute during peak times.

The commission gave Germany three months to come up with a better plan. Meanwhile, it suspended the implementation of the fee.

This is the second time in 2013 that Germany has run afoul of the commission's rules on termination rates. In January, the country proposed charging mobile-termination rates that are 80 percent higher than the EU average.

Besides forcing German cellphone users to pay disproportionately high prices for their calls, that scheme would have resulted in callers from other countries cross-subsidizing German operators, the commission said.

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