Mobile operators face fresh price caps


The cost of calling a mobile phone from a landline or another network is set to fall following a ruling by the regulator Ofcom.

In a statement issued this morning, Ofcom said the new termination charges would be capped at 5.3 pence per minute for Orange, Vodafone, O2 and T-Mobile. 3's charges will be capped at six pence per minute.

The new regulatory regime takes effect from March 2007, but Ofcom said it would consult on how quickly the new caps could be implemented.

"Regulation remains necessary to protect consumers from high prices in wholesale mobile voice call termination markets," the government's communications watchdog said.

For the first time, the limits will be applied to third generation (3G) as well as 2G networks.

They will apply until the end of March 2011.

Ofcom also said that it planned to launch an inquiry into SMS termination charges next year.

SMS termination charges are the fees mobile operators charge for delivering text messages from rival operators.

The inquiry is expected to take between 12 and 18 months and will involve at least one consultation process.

This comes as mobile phone operators are already facing pressure from the European Commission over the cost of making calls abroad.

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