A national review into mobile telecom prices has begun with the aim of discovering any illegal price coordination amongst providers. Competition watchdog, UOHS, will be leading the review and have warned of harsh penalties for any offenders.
“The goal will be to find out whether there exists any reason for the competition regulator to take action in these markets. This will concern investigating indications whether … there has been banned coordination by competitors, or abuse of a dominant position,” it said in a statement on its website.
Similar actions have found breaches in law in other countries, after network providers kept prices high by mutual, and illegal, cooperation. Czech politicians have expressed their support for this action as the big providers, such as O2 Czech Republic, Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile and Vodafone, have faced growing criticism in their pricing structures. Czechs pay some of the highest prices in Europe for their mobile operations.
The majority of the political parties in the Czech government agreed the motion on October last year, rushing through new legislation to bring prices down and make the market more competitive. This was in conjunction with giving more rights to the telecom regulator and increasing the strength of consumer rights.
The big providers have mostly responded by announcing that they are open and willing to cooperate with the inquiry, albeit through the Association of Mobile Networks Operators. O2 declined to say whether they would be cooperative with the watchdog. Vodafone were the most open and said that the inquiry should clear up any miscommunication and rumors about any wrongdoing.
The findings will be presented to the government along with recommendations for action later in the year. Let’s hope this inquiry leads to reduced mobile prices in line with other European countries in terms of wages and inflation.