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The case of Barcelona: Austria’s Regulatory Authority for Broadcasting and Telecommunications (RTR) to co-operate with Spain to prevent phone fraud

‘For some years now, the RTR conciliation body has been receiving complaints about mobile phone thefts in Barcelona that result in very high telephone bills. We are aware of the problem. The conciliation body has repeatedly highlighted this problem, most recently in our 2012 annual report’, said Johannes Gungl, CEO Telecommunications and Postal Services at RTR. ‘We assume that these thefts are organised professionally. Thieves have shown to not be interested in the phones themselves but in SIM cards only, from which they profit directly.’

RTR to hold talks with Spain’s regulatory authority

‘To stop and prevent these far-reaching criminal activities, we need to implement measures at the topmost level. We will make use of our international connections and contact the Spanish regulatory authority. We plan to investigate why Spain allows several connections to be established simultaneously from one single SIM card and discuss possible steps to counter this problem’, Gungl stated. ‘I am confident that our colleagues in Spain will consider our concerns and that we will find a solution that will benefit both tourists and Austrian operators.’

Large number of calls makes costs explode

There are several ways of drastically increasing the number of calls in a short amount of time, causing phone bills to go through the roof. They all involve establishing a large number of connections at the same time, which multiplies call times. Depending on their configuration, these roaming connections can be established via the operator of the respective home country or independently from it. If the latter is the case, home operators’ warning systems will not work.

‘The EU roaming regulation only applies within the EU, Iceland, Norway or Liechtenstein’, noted Gungl in conclusion.

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