20 Apr 2010 14:34

Russian cellular providers overcharging on roaming rates - Putin

MOSCOW. April 20 (Interfax) - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin does not believe that a high level of consolidation in Russia's cellular market is a threat for competition. However, he does consider roaming rates too high.

"Everything is moving towards intensification in this economic sector in the world. Of course, this should not bring about market monopolization," Putin said, when asked by a State Duma deputy whether the Russian government could undertake measures for regulating the provider operations or not.

"Here one minute of talking on a cell phone is much cheaper than in European countries," he said.

Putin added that roaming services were the exception. "A problem is there, nonetheless. The problem with roaming," he said.

"Roaming here is more expensive than in Europe. It is definitely necessary to take a look at this. I want to inform you that the FAS[Federal Antimonopoly Service] is now looking at this problem," Putin said.

"The FAS has opened cases against all these companies and their operations are now being examined. If they are discovered to be violating antimonopoly legislation, sanctions will be applied," Putin said.