BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A quarter of European Union households surveyed by the bloc’s executive body have turned their backs on fixed lines in favor of mobile phones, with a fifth now making calls over the Internet.
The European Commission’s survey of 27,000 homes in the 27-nation bloc found that 24 percent were using mobiles only.
The figure in the 10 ex-communist new member states was 39 percent as governments there found it cheaper to make the leap to mobile rather than upgrading old fixed-line networks.
But Finland — home of handset maker Nokia — came in at 61 percent.
Almost half of European households have access to the Internet but only 36 percent can use broadband, a service Brussels is seeking to make more widely available.
A separate study for the Commission found that “bill shock”, or the high price of using mobile data services outside a home state — such as surfing the Web on a laptop or checking emails via a mobile — was holding back the roaming market.
“Mobile data services are the future and we in Europe were the first to roll them out,” EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding said.
Mobile operators are offering aggressive retail prices in consumers’ home states, triggering growth in the market.
But subscribers have been afraid to use their mobiles while traveling in the EU for fear of being saddled with bills rising to thousands of euros.
“For the one last time, I call on mobile operators to react to my request of February to voluntarily but clearly bring down mobile roaming charges for text messages and other data by July 1,” Reding said.
She will decide around July 18 whether to propose caps on the price of roamed texts and data usage, her spokesman told a news briefing on Friday.
Operators and Commission officials say regulation of roamed texts is inevitable but the case for data, a market in its infancy, is more finely balanced and additional time may be needed before possible intervention in the market.
Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Dale Hudson