BRUSSELS : Deutsche Telekom and a group of other top European telecom companies have agreed to cut wholesale roaming charges levied on Ukrainian peers for three months to help millions of Ukrainian refugees stay in touch with families back home.
The move by companies also including Orange, Vodafone and 20 others is the latest initiative by the industry, with more than a dozen already allowing free calls to Ukraine and waiving retail roaming fees in recent weeks.
Wholesale roaming fees are paid by telecoms operators to peers in another EU country.
The association of mobile virtual network operators MVNO Europe and all three of Ukraine's mobile operators also joined the initiative.
The EU providers agreed to reduce wholesale roaming charges and "termination" rates - charged by telecoms operators for completing outgoing calls on their networks - to the level of costs, and also to cut termination rates for calls from Ukrainian numbers.
The size of the reductions will be up to the companies and their bilateral agreements.
European Commission Vice-President Margrethe Vestager called on other companies to do the same.
"We encourage for more similar measures that can make a real difference in these extraordinary circumstances," Vestager said in a statement.
EU lawmaker Angelika Winzig, who steered the issue through the European Parliament, welcomed the telecoms companies' pledge.
Other companies which signed up to the pledge include Bouygues, Fastweb, Iliad, KPN, Liberty Global, MasMovil, Polkomtel, Proximus, Telefonica, Telenor, Telia Company, Three Group and TIM.
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by David Holmes)