Regulator to cut mobile phone fees by half

Competition

The National Telecommunications Supervision (NHH) will require mobile telephone companies to cut the fees charged for calls from rival networks by almost half to boost competition and lower consumer prices, the head of the authority said yesterday. The Hungarian units of Deutsche Telekom AG's T-Mobile, Vodafone Group Plc and Telenor ASA's Pannon would have to cut their fees between 40 and 50% in several steps by January 2009, said Daniel Pataki, chief of country's phone regulator, at a press conference in Budapest. “We expect this decrease of wholesale prices could help consumer prices decline'' Pataki said. “This may eliminate price differences.'' T-Mobile, Vodafone and Telenor unit are battling for consumers in a market where more than 90% of the population has a mobile phone. Pricing regulations and competition pushed per minute costs down 11% on average each year between 2000 and 2005, the regulator said. Hungary's phone regulator expects mobile wholesale prices to drop to Ft 16.84 a minute at all three companies by January 2009, Pataki said. The companies currently charge a fee between Ft 27.17 and Ft 32.61 a minute for calls from other networks, the regulator said in a statement. The regulator expects its decision to take effect in September. Mobile companies will have 30 days to submit price proposals should they not accept the regulator's decision. The Hungarian unit of T-mobile would have to cut its wholesale charges by 15% on three separate occasions until 2009 to reach the price level set by the phone regulator, Pataki said. T-Mobile was the largest Hungarian mobile phone company with a 44.95% market share at the end of April, according to information on the regulator's Web site. Pannon had 33.25% market share and Vodafone had 21.8%. Hungary's phone regulator expects mobile wholesale prices to drop to Ft 16.84 a minute at all three companies by January 2009, Pataki said. The companies currently charge a fee between Ft 27.17 and Ft 32.61 a minute for calls from other networks, the regulator said in a statement. The regulator expects its decision to take effect in September. Mobile companies will have 30 days to submit price proposals should they not accept the regulator's decision. The Hungarian unit of T-mobile would have to cut its wholesale charges by 15% on three separate occasions until 2009 to reach the price level set by the phone regulator, Pataki said. (Bloomberg)

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