back to article Reding would OK charges to receive mobile calls

EU commissioner Viviane Reding would let mobile operators charge subscribers to receive calls as part of her effort to overhaul the European telecoms sector. Reding told the FT that she was prepared to countenance a shift to a US-style pricing regime as the cost of pushing down termination charges, which she says distort the …


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  1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Hywel Thomas
    Thumb Down

    Bloody stupid idea.

    That would make my PAYG phone rendered fairly useless. Charging people to receive calls makes no sense at all. Caller pays. That's how it should be.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a great idea!

    After all, charging people to receive calls has made the American mobile market what it is today - backward, patchy, clunky and a place where using a Motorola is still considered acceptable in polite company.

  4. Anigel

    bottom feeding pond scum marketing

    With the number of junk calls I get from my phone company and other cold calling bottom feeding pond scum, there is no way I will ever pay to receive calls at least not until we have the ability to charge (in advance) companies for every single item of marketing we are forced to endure.

  5. Dan


    Ok, so suddenly everyone refuses to answer any call from an unknown or withheld number, on the grounds that they don't wish to pay for it. Who will this affect? Mostly companies, because their calls (from private numbers) will go unanswered. If anyone actually thinks this through, it'll never see the light of day.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Not new

    These charges already exist, they are just being being payed directly by the operators and set by the national regulation authorities.

    Therefore, given a borderline working telco market, these pricing schemes actually end up being cheaper for the average consumer.

    P.S.: And yes, econ classes tend to f*ck up your mind.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    May not be so bad

    Modern phones make it easy to identify and reject calls. I know serveral people already rejecting calls from callers who withold their ID or are not in their phone books.

    And the operators will have to create attractive packages to entice existing users on to these new style contracts. Say, more than double the minutes for the same price, but including received calls? There's always downward pressure on prices anyway.

    And for PAYG, maybe the the first 30 secs of a received call would be free anyway. Whatever, it will have to be made attractive.

    Whatever. In the UK we have 5 operators (T-Mobile, Vodafone, O2, Orange, and 3) plus the also-rans that use those networks (Virgin, Tesco, etc etc). It's pretty competitive. And apparently charging for received calls is the model in the US. This doesn't make it good, of course, but proves it's workable.

  8. Trevor Watt

    That used to be the way it worked here in the UK too....

    But the operators soon ditched it as people simply used mobiles for outgoing calls only, and even then only when they could not find a phone box.

    UK consumers won't accept it, it is as simple as that.

  9. Joe Montana
    Thumb Down

    Why not? bah!

    Most importantly, because you often have no control over incoming calls.

    Caller ID can be spoofed, and many companies withhold their number anyway, so you have no idea who is calling. Why should people pay to receive nuisance calls? It's annoying enough to receive them anyway, but to get a bill for it would be completely ridiculous.

    And it also gives malicious people the capability to cause you expense.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just because the Americans do it...

    ...doesn't mean it's a good idea. I'm pretty sure the relatively high cost of calls to mobiles is one of the reasons there isn't as much junk dialling via that medium as there is to landlines. If the marketing company can shift some of that cost onto the unwilling recipient, then there will be a deluge of unwanted calls and an avalanche of people binning their marginally useless (transformed into fucking irritating) mobiles.

  11. Ash
    Thumb Up

    I welcome this change!

    Then all my friends can listen to what i've told them for months and get a Symbian S60 compatible handset, download Truphone, Fring, or one of the other VoIP apps, and completely dispense with mobile tarrifs altogether by using free wireless access in their own homes, Wetherspoon's pubs, and other assorted establishments. I already run a PAYG sim just to keep the phone activated.

    This is just the push they need.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Telco con

    yet another attempt to fleece customers after losing millions on the great 3g selloff.

    Just like the death of 12 month contracts, they now squeeze an extra 6 months from us.

  13. Matt

    Small point

    She didn't say they should do it, she just said she wouldn't stop them. Having said that the day they try to charge me for this is the day I stop using a mobile.

  14. conan

    Dubious Pricing

    Telecoms pricing is stupid pretty much across the board, as the costs aren't passed on to the customer in the way they are amassed. It costs loads to set up a telecoms network, but it costs nothing to send data once you're up and running. A mobile phone, broadband connection, TV connection or whatever should cost a few grand when you get it and that should be it. Humpf.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Snail Mail

    Better post her a letter complaining and forget to use a stamp. When she recieves the letter she can pick up the cost for it.

    and "Why Not"

  16. pctechxp

    Time to bin my mobile

    If this gets approved I will be ditching my mobile and I'd bet a great many would too.

  17. rfrovarp

    Outlaw the junk calls

    In the US, I think it is illegal to make unsolicited calls to a cell phone, as we do pay for incoming calls as well.

  18. Anonymous Coward


    How about if you get credits for receiving telemarketing calls (and at the same time all calls from a registered business line get charged a premium for placing calls).

    The system works in Canada and the US with less need to subsidise (and lock in) handsets to a network. I have to say I prefer the UK system, it's better for kids (i.e. my kid pays for the calls and texts he makes, so when I call him he doesn't complain).

    Telemarketing will need severe regulation.. I remember the days when power-diallers were banned in the UK. Imagine if they then extended this inbound charging mechanism for use with fixed line telephones, and, who knows, for receiving emails...

  19. Macka

    Not on your nelly !

    She can sod off. And so can anyone else who thinks the British public is prepared to accept that charging model. We've never had that in this country, and will not accept it.

    As a country we tend to lie down and take a lot of shit handed out to us by government and corporations. But there are limits, and this is one of them.

  20. Andy Worth

    My view

    If they started charging to receive calls on my mobile, I'd just never answer it and anyone I wanted to be able to speak to me would have to ring at home or at work.

    Oh hang on, that's how it was about 15 years ago, before every man and his dog had a mobile phone.

    Talk about progress......

  21. Grumpy Old Man

    Rabbit, rabbit

    We already suffer from the scourge of reverse-billed SMS messages (or "theft messages") which the regulators refuse to do anything about. Now it is proposed for voice calls as well.

    Time to bring back the Rabbit phone, the mobile yoy could make calls from but not receive on, perhaps ?

  22. AJ

    WTF Is She On About?!

    If this crazed woman thinks the EU market would allow customers to be charged for recieving calls without their being a massive negative effect on the market, customer base, and attitude of consumers then she needs her head read!

    The US market is pants, no where near as many customers, as popular, or as much money made from consumers - what she is trying to give with one hand she is going to end up screwing us with the other...

    ... Why cant she leave well alone, yep we all like cheaper roaming on calls from the EU, texts and data fair enough, but leave it at that FFS...

    ... Otherwise she will see the EU fall because of her brain dead plans and mission to screw things beyond belief.

  23. Dave Edmondston


    The mobile companies will make an attractive offer till people get used to the idea of incoming charges. They'll probably offer double minutes for the first year or so, the start cutting them again. People will not get rid of their phones or stop using them, because that's how culture is now. The mobile market is one big cartel with no real competition.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Completely different pricing structure

    It is all very well comparing this to the American model for mobiles but the cost of calling a mobile is different. Here you pay a premium for calling a mobile (unless your tariff conceals that detail for you) but it costs nothing to receive a call. With the US model a call to a mobile costs the same as to a landline and the extra cost is picked up by the recipient.

    If you simply added charges to receive calls with no further modifications to the pricing structure, then the 'mobile premium' would be paid twice - both by the person making the call and the person receiving it.

    When you think of it in those terms, it suddenly becomes very attractive to the telcos.

  25. soaklord

    Clarification, rant, etc.

    @ rfrovarp Actually, this is not true. The only way to stop unsolicited calls to a mobile phone is to register it with the Do Not Call registry. The reason so few people get solicitations on their mobiles is that it IS illegal to call a mobile phone from an automated dialer, which eliminates most telemarketers because manual dialing is WAY too slow to be efficient.

    All of the U.S. carriers give you the first minute of an incoming call free. This eliminates the ability to cause malicious cost or for telemarketers to get through and cost you money (as long as you are smart enough to disengage prior to the 60 second mark). But paying to receive is also the reason why almost NO ONE has a PAYG handset here. In the UK market, PAYG makes perfect sense. Minutes are cheap (relatively) incoming calls are free and the handsets don't cost much. Not so true here where even a year ago they were flogging the razors with <1mp and no 3g on 2 year contracts.

    @AC Less of a need to lock in handsets? Maybe. But in the U.S. there are really only two carriers to choose from for any given handset. If you went with CDMA, your choices are Sprint or Verizon. If you went with GSM, your choices are AT&T or T-mobile. That's not much of a choice. T-Mobile has yet to offer 3g even in most urban centers and AT&T... well, think BT only worse. Lot's worse. Sprint doesn't use sim cards, so it is difficult at best to transfer their phones and Verizon is a bit like Vodafone without the cool handsets.

    I loved the UK model when I was there. Highly competitive, great choices for the consumer, and cutting edge. Most of the phones offered in the U.S. still can't do everything my W810i can do 2 years after I got my phone! (Don't start if you own a PDA, Windows Mobile, or 3g phone, look at what most punters are carrying and you'll see what I mean how many Razors do you still see here?)

    Mine's the one with "I'd rather be riding the tube" on the back.

  26. Luke

    Don't think this will happen

    Many reasons:

    Hopefully there is too much competition in Europe.

    People will use the phone less - I know I would think twice about making some semi-pointless call if I knew the person I was calling would have to pay for it.

    How much money do the phone companies make from those dodgy 3rd party guys that call to let you know your phone can be upgraded? Those guys would be out of business.

    American mobile market is a totally different beast.

  27. Anonymous Coward

    @Snail mail

    Great idea. Except she works for the EU. So WE are paying for the stamp. And doubtless paying for someone else to go and collect the fucking thing.

    I would vote no on the EU tomorrow if the spineless bastards running this place gave us a chance!

  28. Michael
    Thumb Up

    @Anonymous Coward

    LOL re. the stamp, great idea! I'm sure that if enough mobile owners did this she'd soon change her mind...

  29. Julian

    Viviane You Bastard!

    As Rick from The Young Ones would have said "Viviane You Bastard!"

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    <no title>

    And in breaking news: Reding suggests the mail service should charge us all for all that junk mail we keep insisting on receiving.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    <no title>

    As I understand it, the US system is as it is because they screwed up the numbering system; so the caller can not tell if they are calling a person's a landline or their cell phone. So, to be fair they get charged the same, and the receiver pays for the convinience of mobility.

    Elsewhere they got numbering right and set aside specific ranges for mobile phones, so the caller can tell whether they are opting to pay a landline call rate or a mobile rate.

  32. Fluffykins Silver badge

    Someone publish this idiot's phone number.

    Then we can ALL ring tim.

  33. Eponymous Cowherd
    Paris Hilton


    Oh come on! These Euro-twats don't know the meaning of the word 'NO' whether its in French (Non), German (Nein), or Irish (Feck off).

    Paris, 'cos she doesn't know how to say 'no', either.

  34. pctechxp

    Mail/phone your operator

    And make it clear you won't stand for it and will cancel if they think about introducing this.

  35. pctechxp

    Does Reding own a mobile?

    And would she be happy to pay for receiving calls?

    We need to know

  36. Paul
    Paris Hilton

    we already do pay for received calls in some circumstances

    one class of call means the operator gets double the money.

    it's called voicemail. the caller pays to leave a message, and then (unless you're on virgin) you pay to pick up your voicemail.

    this is why I've remained on virgin for voice (their data charges are extortionate!) - free voicemail!

    paris, because even she could understand this.

  37. Fred Goldstein

    American model a success

    For the most part telecom in the US has been a complete disaster since 2001, but the one bright spot is mobile usage. We got it right over a decade ago and you Europeans are sucking the pondwater.

    Average mobile usage in the US is now something like 1000 minutes/month at an average net price around a stinkin' dime, which given the exchange rate for ISD (incredible shrinking dollar) means a few old lire, or single-digit Eurocents. It's sold in buckets of two-way usage; for instance I buy my family 1300 minutes/month for three phones. Mobile-mobile usage, at least within a carrier's network, is usually not counted. Incoming minutes count, sure, but they're just plain old local numbers, so the caller doesn't pay either. Overtime minutes are expensive (usually around 40 cents) but that's set up as a penalty to get you to buy the right plan, and many operators now allow some carryover minutes or overtime waivers if you only go over once, or upgrade immediately. So many people give out their mobile numbers as their only numbers and nobody blinks at the cost. I just wish my mobile phone sounded better. Wireline is so much nicer to listen to.

    The idea of paying 25 cents a minute to call ANYONE is an outrage to Americans. We don't like paying for a call, period, and we are very gabby.

    Carriers do subsidize phones, usually based on a 2-year contract, so the pricing structure has nothing to do with the public's taste in handsets. Unlocked GSM phones will work on the ATT and T-Mobile networks.

    The big risk in the US now is that mobile carriers have been consolidating, and there's less competition than before. But nobody wants Euro-style CPP. It would be less popular than $9/gallon gasoline. And people are having a cow over paying $4/gallon.

  38. Martin Beckett Silver badge

    US system

    An advantage of the US system is that your mobile gets a regular local number, so there is no need for a landline phone.

    Sending and receiving calls in your local area is generally free in the monthly subscription. But you get to pay roaming charges - so if someone calls you while you are in another city you pay long distance rates to listen to them!

    Still it should be allowed - it's upto the market to decide which pricing system works, there is no reason why one should be banned just because the US thought of it.

  39. Anonymous Coward


    best idea yet...

    make the mobile networks put themselves out of business by taking on a suicidal business model, (just like the music business did)

    i give it 6 months and it will start to be introduced.

    best way yet to kill off the mobile phone networks, short of a 'Capt.3G' anti tower campain across the UK


  40. HH Herrera
    Thumb Down


    This method was applied in the past at the very begining of the mobile telephony. As consequence there will be a drop in the telephone traffic volume. People will not disclose their mobile numbers anymore. What will happen with "prepaid phones"?, Very bad idea.

  41. Steven Pemberton

    Europe has been doing good

    Good grief! What is everyone getting worked up about? Reding didn't say anyone *should* charge for incoming calls, just that she wouldn't stop anyone who did. Whether a telco does do it is up to them, not to her.

    Europe has been doing good stuff stopping the telcos from fleecing us when roaming in Europe (pity it doesn't have the power to stop them when roaming in other countries), so cut her some slack!

  42. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle


    Lets email this fool and tell her that her comments on this has caused outrage and that she obviously has no clue what the EU consumers want, we will not be screwed over and will take a leaf out of Irelands book regarding the EU if these idiotic fools spout off anymore shit...

    ... Email:

  43. John Dougald McCallum


    If my mobile phone service sterted doing this I'd tell them exactly where to shove their phone.

  44. Jeff Deacon
    Black Helicopters

    Pay to receive? - No thanks!

    Even in India, a country with a rather restrictive approach to telecoms; even in India the mobile phone companies abolished the "pay to receive" model many years ago!

    To the AC who suggested that we "EMAIL VIVIENE", whilst agreeing with your proposal that we'd be better off out, please be aware that a) the UK will not be permitted to have a vote, and b) voting against the EU will not be permitted to have any effect on the actions of the "colleagues". Just for an off topic laugh, have a look at:

    Or maybe it isn't quite so funny after all.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Did no-one actually read the article?

    The article (and related stories) explain that she doesn't want to prohibit companies from charging for incoming calls - not that she'd compel them to do so.

    I'd envisage operators having some tariffs where you do pay for incoming calls and some where you don't. Pay your money and take your choice.

    If she'd said she wanted to prohibit charging for incoming calls there'd be a queue of people waiting to say how the EU should keep their noses out and how dare they try and ban such an innovative idea.

  46. Anonymous Coward

    She Takes Utter Rubbish...

    ... Sometimes I wonder who the hell put this numpty in charge, in some respects she has it right that roaming while in the EU is too high and consumers are ripped off yet in another breath she says us being charged for recieving a call is fine, what planet is this woman on, she needs a good kick up the arse!

    The US model works as cell phones do not have a different number to landlines therefore to call a cell is the same as calling a landline, we pay a fucking ridiculous rate to call a mobile from a landline, therefore if she wants to be a complete anus and condone this business model we ALL want our mobile numbers changed to landlines then we can use one phone as landline and cell.

    Oh and the operators can say bye bye to pay as you go tarrifs as customers will NOT top up to be charged for recieving a call from anyone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  47. pctechxp

    US system and local numbers

    So that means that if I go outside buckinghamshire I'd have to pay more for county roaming?

    I don't think so!

  48. kain preacher

    umm no

    As I understand it, the US system is as it is because they screwed up the numbering system; so the caller can not tell if they are calling a person's a landline or their cell phone. So, to be fair they get charged the same, and the receiver pays for the convinience of mobility.

    Cell phones have their own prefixes separate from land lines. In some states cell phones have a separate area codes .

  49. P. Lee
    Thumb Down

    Pay to receive

    Maybe we could charge the railway companies to arrive at their stations, or maybe we could charge Nokia for receiving one of their handsets.

    Seriously, the charges should be carried by those choosing to make the calls since they are the real consumer.

    I can see how, with a bundled system of landline/mobile number it might make sense, but with separate numbering in place there is no need for that. Unless you have high-speed wireless internet or cable, you will still need a landline anyway so it isn't that useful to go mobile only.

    As a side note, operators would love to get rid of PAYG and get everyone on a contract. Its more stable income for them and higher income too, as people pay less attention to their bills when they don't have to consciously think about topping up. The market is just too competitive for them to drop PAYG. Maybe Reding's been listening to the operators.

  50. Anonymous Coward

    Creative thinking

    Oh, think outside the box, people. How about if the mobile phone companies offered a *choice*: the tariff you have now, or one with a local number, where you pay to receive calls. Some people might choose the latter (dunno how many: that's up to business/the market). Or you could be allowed both on the same handset, and you'd get to choose which number you gave to whom.

    The smart ones might even package up an attractive VOIP offering to go with it. That's got to be the best way to deliver the hybrid home/away phone, hasn't it?

  51. b166er

    Does this mean,

    I can go back to using a pager again? However did we manage before mobiles?

  52. Walter McCann

    Learn from the Yanks

    Are we incapable of learning from the stupidity of the Americans????

    This is the model that they followed and as a result they are way behind the rest of the world in mobile phone technology. It took at least 10 years longer than in Europe to get decent coverage in the cities let alone in the country. They have a huge resistance to mobile phones as a result of this charge.

    I would not stay nor move to an operator that charged me for receiving a call - what is the EU thinking - I would then have to pay for something I did not initiate, potentially did not want - (I suppose they could do some kind of chargeback scheme whereby you could charge it back if you don't like the person :)

    All I can say is STUPID STUPID STUPID.

    If this is the rubbish the EU are coming up with then it is no surprise that we (Ireland though not myself) voted NO, NEIN, NON etc........


  53. A J Stiles
    Thumb Down

    Paying to receive calls?

    Do. Not. Want.

  54. pctechxp

    I've mailed O2

    Will see what their response is.

  55. AJ
    Dead Vulture

    @ Andrew Martin

    You hit the nail on the head, if they do want to introduce such a scheme of paying for recieving calls then GIVE CONSUMERS THE CHOICE!

    Some people may want to substitute a mobile number for a landline and do away with their current landline, which may work out better for them, but in most cases consumers will NOT want to do this at all...

  56. Chris Hamilton
    Thumb Down

    Piece of nonsense...

    I receive a lot of calls on my personal mobile from my company (my Orange phone has better reception than the company issue O2 phone in our remote area of the country). Because we use a fixed line telephone network built by British Rail, which does not transmit CLID externally, I cannot differentiate calls from my employers offices to those which are from marketing/nuisance callers. Therefore I answer all unknown origin calls, hanging up quickly if its a marketing call.

    Why should I be charged for that privilege? I also wouldn't expect my employer to upgrade its entire fixed line telephone network just to gain CLID.

    If this happens (which I doubt it would), then I think all calls on my phone would be diverted to voicemail, unless I happen to be in a Wi-Fi hotspot.

    I'm starting to think the Irish had the right idea......

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's the big deal?

    I wish people would sit back and think occasionally.

    If they start charging us the termination fee to receive calls, the following will happen:

    Our subscription costs will go down because our operators will no longer be charged termination fees when we call mobiles on other operators (their own subscribers will be paying them) -- OR -- the amount of free minutes we get every month will be increased. I can't see anything wrong with either scenario.

    The cost of calls to other numbers on the same network should also come down.

    What we *would* need to see, though, is an easy way for us to know exactly which operator we're calling.

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