Viviane Reding, Europe's telecommunications commissioner, is considering a plan that would mean mobile phone users would pay to receive calls.
She is about to propose a plan to slash the level of termination charges for mobile phone users, according to her spokesman Martin Selmayr. This could change the entire mobile pricing model in Europe.
She is expected to announce the move ahead of revealing plans to curb the cost of sending and receiving data while abroad, Selmayr said.
Termination charges, the fees operators impose on each other for connecting calls to their networks, vary widely in the EU and are up to €0.19 (16 pence) in some countries. Reding wants the price to be in line with the costs of termination to the operators - estimated at around €0.02.
The move to cut termination fees has drawn comparisons with the US market, where termination fees are waived completely, and operators instead charge subscribers for receiving calls.
This billing system is often referred to as 'receiving party pays' or 'book and keep'. Selmayr said it was up to operators to choose their preferred business models, but warned that any formula that charged for receiving calls would be unpopular in Europe - where customers aren't used to paying to receive calls, except on mobile phones when they are travelling away from home.
The European Commission will announce its plans for termination charges before the end of the month.
Separately, mobile operators have been given until 1 July to reduce data roaming charges - the charges people pay for sending or receiving SMS messages and other data transfers while abroad.
The mobile phone trade group the GSM Association said last week that data roaming prices have declined. However at the end of last week Reding said she wasn't impressed with the reductions, which the Commission says amount to a €0.01 decline to €0.28.
Reding wants to cap the cost for sending an SMS message at €0.12, but many politicians, including the Danish government, are pushing for even lower rates of €0.05.
The cost of sending other data while abroad varies widely, Selmayr said. Reding may propose a ceiling cost of €0.35 per megabyte of data transferred, but won't decide for sure until after 1 July.
"We expect to announce our plans for data roaming in mid July," Selmayr said.
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