Irish consumers pay dearly for mobile phone calls

Commission says 774% differential between Lithuania and Netherlands is ‘inexplicable’

Commission says the 28 national telecoms markets in Europe are not benefitting consumers like a single market should. Photograph: Getty

Commission says the 28 national telecoms markets in Europe are not benefitting consumers like a single market should. Photograph: Getty

 

Irish mobile phone users are being asked to pay five times more to make domestic phone calls than people living in the Baltic region with the European Commission describing the price discrepancy as inexplicable.

Lithuania is the cheapest country in the EU to make mobile phone calls with the average price there currently standing at 1.9 cent a minute compared with an average price of 10.2 cent in the Republic. The commission has put the average price across the EU at 9.1 cent per minute.

Across the EU mobile users face huge price differences with a 774 per cent difference found between Lithuania and the Netherlands which is the most expensive country in the region.

The average cost of a call there currently stands at 14.1 cent per minute. The price the UK is 9.7 per cent.

Price differences of this scale cannot be explained by differences in quality, differences in the cost of providing the service, or by differences between countries in consumer purchasing power, the commission said today.

“As these numbers clearly show, the 28 national telecoms markets in Europe today are not benefitting consumers like a single market would,” said European Commission vice president Neelie Kroes.

“It is critical for the whole EU to move quickly to build a real single market to achieve a truly connected continent,” she said.

There are much smaller price differentials in other categories of basic goods and services in the European single market. For example a litre of milk can be bought for between €0.69 and €0.99 wherever they are in the EU which is a difference of 43 per cent. The price differential for an iPad meanwhile is only 11 per cent

In September, Ms Kroes will present a new package aimed at strengthening the Telecoms single market.