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Eastern European progress to information society still slow

New research has shown that, while the EU attempts to ensure that key elements of the information society are available for all through more equitable charging for mobile and Internet use, many EU candidate countries are still charging high and variable rates for usage. The r...

New research has shown that, while the EU attempts to ensure that key elements of the information society are available for all through more equitable charging for mobile and Internet use, many EU candidate countries are still charging high and variable rates for usage. The research on call charges produced by Tarifica focused on the costs for a three minute call in five candidate states: Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Poland and Slovakia. It looked at costs for fixed to fixed line, fixed to mobile and mobile to mobile. It found a variance of 700 per cent between the cost of a call to a fixed line and to a mobile phone where the difference was greatest (in the case of Estonia), with a 166 per cent difference being the lowest (in the case of Slovakia). The other countries show a difference of around 200 per cent. The reasons that the research gives for the high costs is that there has only recently been a separation of provision of telecommunications services and telecommunications regulation in many of the countries. There is also a dependence by mobile phone operators on high termination fees. Estonia, the country with the highest difference between fixed and mobile calls, has the lowest cost for fixed to fixed line calls of all the countries in the survey. Separate research on Hungary has also shown a low level of Internet use in the country. Only 10 per cent of Hungarians use the Internet on a regular basis, compared to a global figure of 34 per cent. Of those who do use it, there is still reluctance to use the Internet for shopping, largely due to concerns over revealing credit card details online. Just three per cent of the population use the Internet for shopping.