Mobile telephony: “War” in the market after a fire report on prices

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War in the telecommunications market, but also between the independent authorities of the Competition Commission and the National Telecommunications and Post Commission (EETT), broke out on the occasion of yesterday’s report of the Finnish consulting company Rewheel on the cost of data in Greece of mobile phone companies and the level of competition in that industry.

It is noted that the relevant report was prepared on behalf of the Competition Commission, when the responsibility and responsibility for the competition in the field of telecommunications has been exclusively for years – since its establishment – EETT, which approves or rejects the various telecommunication packages of companies, after cost control.

According to telecommunications market executives, with the detailed report of Rewheel on the prices and level of competition in the mobile telephony sector, the Competition Commission is trying to support its request to take responsibility for the implementation of competition law in the field. telecommunications.

According to the Finnish report, telecommunications providers in Greece have more expensive services than any other country in the European Union and the OECD. In fact, there is talk of a lack of competition, describing the Greek market as a “closed oligopoly” with 3 mobile phone companies, while it is argued that in order to reduce high prices, a fourth player needs to be activated, indicating the 5G process as an opportunity for its entrance.

Telecommunications market executives note that Rewheel “does not specialize in market research, but in radio frequency management studies.”

It is a fact that the Finnish company in its report leaves clear tips on how the Ministry of Digital Government and EETT are preparing to provide the radio frequency spectrum for the fifth generation of mobile telephony (5G). He estimates that with another strategy of conceding the spectrum to 5G, an attempt could be made for a fourth player to enter the mobile phone market in Greece. Rewheel, for many years now, has been arguing that mobile phone markets with four groups are more competitive than those with only three, such as Greece.

However, it is recalled that in the past there was a 4th player (Q Telecom) in the Greek mobile phone market, but it could not withstand the competition and was acquired by Wind Hellas.

In particular, the report of the Finnish company, among others, states:

Greece is still ranked as the least competitive country among the 28 European Union and OECD countries, as shown by comparative price measurements recorded in Rewheel’s six-month Digital Fuel Monitor editions even after the latest price reductions, last March. It is the second most expensive country, after Canada, in which there is a de facto duopoly, in the average gigabyte price of 4G mobile programs that include 1000 minutes of talk time within Greece.

With 20 euros per month in Greece, the consumer buys a 4G mobile program which does not exceed 2.6 gigabytes of data, 300 minutes of talk time and 500 SMS. In all other markets, with 20 euros per month, the consumer could buy about 7 times more gigabytes and extra unlimited minutes of talk time and SMS (in Austria he could buy 2,000 minutes of talk time and SMS with 20 euros per month). In Finland and the United Kingdom, consumers could buy an unlimited amount of data on their smartphones, paying less than 20 euros a month.

At 40 euros a month, Greek consumers could buy a 4G mobile app with a maximum of 11 gigabytes, 500 minutes of talk time and 500 SMS. In all other markets, with 40 euros a month, consumers could buy at least about 3 times more gigabytes and extra unlimited talk minutes and SMS. In Germany, the Netherlands, Finland, Italy and the United Kingdom, consumers could buy unlimited data volumes at HD video speeds and unlimited minutes and SMS for less than 40 euros a month.

Mobile programs with unlimited data volume and minimum speed of 3 Mbit / s for continuous HD video streaming were available in March 2020 in 7 of the 8 countries included in this comparison. Greek consumers were asked to pay 149.90 euros a month to buy a mobile app that includes unlimited data to support streaming HD video streaming, six times more than Dutch consumers pay.

Severe reactions

Both the industry companies and EETT responded harshly to Rewheel and the Competition Commission, while there was no reaction from the Ministry of Digital Governance.

In a tough announcement on Friday afternoon, EETT states that “the study cited and presented by the Competition Commission presents paradoxical and largely contradictory data, while the methodology that follows is of dubious reliability.” He adds: “The packages selected for comparison are not representative of the average use in the Greek market, as there is no explicit reference to the burden of taxation or other features, such as time commitment, device subsidy or discount policy, etc. etc. In other words, it concerns a very small market share “.

According to EETT, the choice of countries used by Rewheel as examples “are examples of interventions, such as the case of Canada, which is a typical example of a monopolistic / dual-market market”.

EETT also states that the main criterion for selecting the model of responsibilities of the independent authorities should be the effectiveness of exercising the relevant responsibilities. He notes that since 2000, EETT has issued more than 100 decisions in compliance with competition law. 80% concern the investigation of violations of articles 1 and 2 of law 3959/2011 (and former law 703/77), while the remaining 20% ​​concern controls of concentrations in the markets of its competencies. He stressed: “In any case, improving competition in the telecommunications market requires extensive and continuous analysis of large volumes of market data and careful planning of innovative-realistic interventions, taking into account international trends. This goal cannot be achieved by analyzes based on limited data and superficial approaches, nor by over-regulation approaches. ”

Vodafone

The reaction of Vodafone Greece was also intense, as Rewheel’s report uses data from the company’s packages, in order to argue for the high prices in our country. Vodafone circles report that the Finnish company’s report “is a patchwork of inaccuracies that misrepresents facts that have nothing to do with reality and leads to completely wrong conclusions.”

They say, for example, that the report incorrectly claims that Vodafone Greece and Wind Hellas share a spectrum, while in fact they share active network infrastructure, which is considered “optimal practice” even by the European Commission. They add that “all these inaccuracies of the report undermine the digital leap of Greece and in fact for reasons unrelated to the proper functioning of the country’s institutions.”

However, on the occasion of Rewheel’s report, KIN.AL MPs Michalis Katrinis and Ahmet Ilhan asked a question to the Ministers of Development and Digital Government.

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