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February 1, 1998

US MOBILE OPERATORS’ NEW CHARGES COULD DOUBLE TAKE-UP

By CBR Staff Writer

The US is facing a major shake up of the Mobile phone industry, with the news that mobile phone operators are planning to change the way that calls are billed, which could result in a doubling of US mobile phone use and take up. AT&T Corp is leading the way with an announcement that it will introduce a trial system where the caller pays for calls to mobile phones, a radical departure from the current US system where mobile phone users pay both when they make and receive calls. Europe and Asia have had an easier time of it, as their phone networks have been normally under the control of one monopoly operator, making financial settlement between the cellular and fixed operator less technically demanding. This system has stunted the US mobile phone industry, where users commonly leave their phones permanently switched off, because they have to pay for all incoming calls. In Europe, the caller pays wherever the call originates. The US previously with its multitudinous phone companies, hasn’t had the resources to implement the system. Now AT&T is committed to try and introduce the European model for its 8.2 million mobile customers, by year end. With AT&T leading, the other cellular operators are bound to follow. The only hurdles left to introducing the services are approval from the Federal Communications Commission, and the reworking of existing billing systems to deal with the changes.

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