Norwegian companies can charge more for calls made from Norway to EU numbers than for calls made in the EU between Norwegian numbers.
The discrepancy arises from EU rules and can result in unwelcome bills for mobile customers who call EU numbers from Norway.
New pricing rules introduced by the EU in May mean that Norwegian operators must comply with the EU's maximum limit on call rates. That limit was set at 2.31 Norwegian kroner per minute, compared with a Norwegian maximum price of 0.98 kroner per minute.
Although mobile providers can choose to set a price lower than the maximum limit, few do this.
As such, a call made from a Norwegian number to any EU number is subject to the higher rate, but a call between two Norwegian numbers which originated in any EU country will be charged the lower, Norwegian rate.
The Norwegian Consumer Council (Forbrukarrådet, NCC) has criticized service providers over the issue, NRK reports.
Norwegians who have made calls to foreign numbers could receive surprisingly expensive bills, according to NCC’s director Lise Blyverket.
“We as consumers must be aware of this type of preferential treatment. You can speculate as to the reasons, but it seems as though companies have a kind of loophole through which they are able to milk us consumers (for money),” Blyverket told NRK.
Norway’s national communications authority, Nkom, is responsible for ensuring operators comply with EU rules. Nkom head of department Kenneth Olsen told the broadcaster that operators were not bound to the EU maximum rates.
“Operators are free to set the price lower than the maximum prices,” Olsen said.
Service providers Telenor, Telia and Ice all currently charge the maximum rate for calls from Norwegian to EU numbers, according to NRK’s report.
In comments given to the broadcaster, Olsen suggested that a lack of competition was a factor enabling companies to stick to the highest possible call charge.
Telia’s director of information Henning Lunde stated in a written comment to NRK that the company complies with all regulations in the sector.
“When our customers make free calls between EU countries while travelling in Europe, that has a cost for Telia because we pay to use the mobile network in other countries,” he added.
Although the EU’s roaming rules enable Norwegian mobile customers to use their data in the EU at the same rates as in Norway, call charges are not treated the same way since the two areas are treated as different markets.