German mobile phone bills should shrink significantly from the start of December, as the big four providers were told on Friday to halve the amount they charge customers for mobile calls between networks.
The Federal Network Agency which regulates communications facilities, said it was reducing the amount T-Mobile, Vodafone, E-Plus and Telefonica/O2 could charge for calls between them, from a top price of €3.39 per minute to a maximum of €1.85 per minute. In a year’s time this would be further reduced to €1.79 per minute, a spokesman said.
Jochen Homann, president of the agency, said the spread of smartphones and the accompanying rise in data transmission meant that voice transmission was accounting for a dwindling share of the total cost of mobile phone networks.
Telekom said the decision was difficult to comprehend, and that it would lose €500 million in turnover as a direct result, and this would be bad for future investments.
A Vodafone spokesman said the decision was completely the wrong signal, and would take money from the market which was needed for the expansion of digital infrastructure.
A four-week consultation period now starts, while the European Commission and EU regulatory bodies must also have time to comment.