LONDON, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Five European mobile phone operators said on Thursday they will cut the cost of using handsets or laptops to download data abroad, and called on other operators to do the same.
The move by 3 Group, KPN Group and Play to cut wholesale prices to 25 euro cents per megabyte follows calls last week by the European Union’s top telecoms regulator, Viviane Reding, to cut the cost of data roaming by summer or else face mandatory change.
The wholesale price is typically between one and two euros per megabyte across Europe now.
The five mobile operators are KPN (KPN.AS) in the Netherlands along with its subsidiaries BASE in Belgium and E-Plus in Germany, together with Play in Poland and 3 Group -- owned by Hutchison Whampoa 0013.HK -- in Britain, Ireland, Italy, Austria, Sweden and Denmark.
The operators have networks covering a population of more than 295 million, 60 percent of the European Union’s 495 million. In response to Reding’s challenge, they plan to introduce the lower rates from March 1.
The European average retail data roaming rate is currently 5.24 euros per megabyte, the operators said in a statement.
An official at mobile phone operator in the EU told Reuters last week that costs are currently about 1 euro cent inside a customer’s own country.
“Our companies in Germany and Belgium have supported the initiatives of Mrs Reding to make mobile telephony affordable,” Stan Miller, President and Chief Executive of KPN Mobile Group, said in the statement.
“Now it’s time to support the demand for data roaming across the EU ... We hope that other operators in more market will act too,” he added. (Reporting by Mike Elliott; Editing by Paul Bolding)