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Cost of local mobile calls could be cut

News | Published:

THE island’s telecom providers could be forced to reduce the cost of local mobile phone calls.

Cicra chairman Michael O' Higgins (Picture by Tony Pike, 25493372)

The Channel Islands Competition & Regulatory Authorities (Cicra) is considering new rules to reduce mobile termination rates (MTRs), which are the amounts that telecoms companies currently charge for access to one another’s networks.

In it’s annual report, Cicra reveals that Guernsey’s MTRs are significantly higher than many other countries, and it is looking at potential regulatory interventions.

The local MTR is currently 4.11p per minute, compared to under 1p per minute in the UK and EU.

Mobile termination rates were designed originally as a mechanism to support the development of the fledgling mobile phone industry, but critics argue that in an island that now has as many mobile phones as people, they are no longer needed.

Cicra is reviewing whether the local mobile termination rate should be brought into line with the UK’s.

‘An appropriate level of MTRs in the Channel Islands is important because a potential failure to assess the level of MTRs could result in customers who are subject to existing MTR rates, which are set by a dominant operator and where customers are not able to express any choice of who provides that service, are potentially cross-subsidising the retail mobile services that are being provided in a competitive environment.’

In December, a consultation with ‘stakeholders’ was launched and that feedback is now being assessed before a way forward is drawn up.

In its latest report, Cicra also gives an update on the framework to deploy the next generation ultra-fast 5G mobile network.

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This promises much faster data download and upload speeds, wider coverage and more stable connections.

Smartphone users should be able to do everything faster and better.

Cicra chairman Michael O’Higgins said the islands could be at the forefront of the new technology.

‘During the past year, we have worked with effectively with the islands’ telecom companies, both in overseeing their normal operations and in working with them and government bodies to consider the pathways towards 5G technology.’

Helen Bowditch

By Helen Bowditch
News reporter

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