Czech telecoms regulator given ammunition for attack on mobile data charges

Photo: Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain

The Czech Telecommunication Office (ČTÚ) has made a call which many of its critics say should have been pretty obvious by now and should have been made long ago. The office has decided that competitive market conditions do not exist on the market for mobile services for data.

Photo: Pixabay,  CC0 Public Domain
The not so surprising conclusion is based on an analysis of the market which was published on August 17. Prices, it said, are being kept high because of the lack of market competition. And on the back of that the office is now promising action.

Among the options available, the most direct and hard hitting would be for the office to intervene and dictate prices directly to the main Czech mobile phone operators. The government’s current coordinator for the digital economy and former member of the telecommunications office council, Ondřej Malý, told the business daily Hospodářské Noviny that the office must now send a clear signal that it is not happy with the state of the mobile data market.

An efficient and economic mobile data market is seen as fundamental for the development of the new applications and services that are seen making their debut on the e-commerce and services market over the next decade. The problem from the Czech perspective is that mobile data charges are currently around three times those in neighbouring Poland and even higher than in much richer Austria.

One of the flaws highlighted by the latest ČTÚ study is that the three big Czech telecom companies, Vodafone, O2, and T-Mobil, re-sell space on the networks to so called virtual operators under such strict and uninviting conditions that the later cannot undercut the giants and are able to make only the slimmest profit themselves from their offer. In spite of these punitive conditions there are still around 100 virtual operators on the Czech market.

An attack on the re-sale conditions offered by the big operators is seen as one way to push mobile data prices down, according to experts and telecommunications office board member Josef Chomyn, the daily newspaper says. The office, however, is still holding out the hope that the big telecoms operators will react and start cutting prices before it is forced to act, the paper adds.