EU says telecoms market 'too fragmented'

Image caption,
Mobile phone charges still vary widely across the EU

Businesses and consumers across the EU are plagued by high prices because of inconsistent application of EU telecoms rules, the European Commission says.

Mobile phone call charges range from 0.04 euro per minute in Latvia to 0.24 in Malta, a Commission report says.

Big price differences are hampering efforts to create a single market in EU telecoms.

There was zero growth in EU telecoms in 2009, while the overall EU economy saw a 4.2% decline.

The EU's Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes said "rapid growth of mobile broadband and more affordable internet access are good news for consumers in these tough economic times".

"Yet the limited progress towards a true single market is disappointing. Member states need to do more to ensure telecoms rules are properly implemented."

The Commission said some national regulators were controlling wholesale broadband markets, while in other countries regulation was limited to the old copper-based networks.

In January average EU take-up of fixed broadband per capita stood at 24.8% - more than 123 million lines.

Denmark and the Netherlands are world leaders in fixed-line broadband, with nearly 40% of the population enjoying broadband internet access, the Commission says.

EU mobile broadband take-up has almost doubled in the past year.

In January it was reaching 5.2% of the EU population, and the penetration rates for Finland, Portugal and Austria were above 15%.

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