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OPTA: Large numbers going digital in the Netherlands

Presentation of 2010 Annual Report and Market Monitor

For the first time, the majority of the fixed telephone lines and cable television connections in the Netherlands were digital in 2010. Some 50.8% of the fixed-line callers now use a digital line for their calls, while 55% of the households who use a cable television connection, now have a digital television. Digital has superseded the traditional technologies using copper and analogue systems. These developments were signalled by OPTA (the Dutch Independent Post and Telecommunications Authority) in its 2010 Market Monitor. The Market Monitor forms part of OPTA's Annual Report each year and is being published again today by the regulatory authority. The 2010 Annual Report shows that 15 fines totalling some 12.7 million euros and nine penalties for non-compliance were imposed by OPTA. In 2010, OPTA received 87% of its financing from market players. Of the budgeted 18.3 million euros, OPTA’s expenses for the year came to 16.6 million euros, thanks to its ongoing focus on efficiency.

Chris Fonteijn, Chairman of OPTA, on 2010: ‘OPTA commenced with its three-yearly study of the Dutch communications markets in 2010. Following in-depth analysis, OPTA will determine whether and which measures are necessary in order to further stimulate innovation and competition. On the one hand, we see that the consumer has more choice thanks to developments such as convergence and digitalisation, while on the other hand, we are experiencing consolidation of the market with the attendant reduction in the number of players. In June, OPTA will announce the measures being taken to ensure that consumers have and continue to have a choice in the area of telephony, internet and television.’

Other trends from the 2010 Market Monitor
Fixed telephony.
Fixed telephony is losing ground to mobile telephony and other forms of communication such as the internet and SMS. The total number of fixed telephone connections has fallen by almost 2%. The percentage of digital telephone connections has risen from 44.9% to 50.8%, while the number of traditional telephone connections has fallen over the same period from 55.1% to 49.2%. The volume of fixed-line calls by the Dutch is down 6% compared to the previous year. This brings the total number of calling minutes via a fixed line to 11.2 billion. This reduction has not been compensated overall by the increase in the number of mobile call minutes: the total telephony volume has fallen by 2%.
Mobile phones. Calls via mobile phones have superseded fixed line calls for the first time, at 11.3 billion calling minutes. Nevertheless, the total number of mobile telephony connections has fallen from 20.1 million to 19.3 million. Despite this decrease, the use of mobile internet has seen explosive growth. The number of separate mobile broadband connections, such as via a mobile broadband dongle, doubled from 300,000 to 600,000. There was an eightfold rise in the total data use, which increased by 3.2 petabytes in the first six months of 2010 compared to the same period in 2009. SMS use also remains popular. The volume of SMS messages sent for the year 2009 was about 9 billion. In 2010, for the first six months alone, the SMS messages total came to almost 5.5 billion.
Television. The number of consumers using digital television via a cable connection was greater in 2010 than the number of consumers who only have analogue television via a cable connection (55% vs. 45%). Aside from cable television, other digital options are available, such as IPTV via fibre optic cables or DSL, satellite and Digital Video Broadcasting Terrestrial (DVB-T). The number of consumers using this kind of alternative for their television viewing rose from 24% in mid-2009 to 28% in September 2010. Digital television usage has been increasing for some years by some 10 percentage points per year. In September 2010, 65% of consumers had a digital television, with a mere one third of all consumers still having only an analogue television subscription.
Bundles. Two out of three consumers have a bundle subscription, i.e. some five million Dutch households. In 2010, triple play, a bundle package offering television, internet and telephony, was the most popular, with 2.2 million subscriptions. This bundle is used by over 30% of all households, whereas the number of households using a broadband and fixed telephony bundle is down (this number has fallen from 26.3% to 23.2%). Some 800,000 households (11.3%) have opted for a bundle with broadband and television. Finally, virtually 2.5% of the households use a television and fixed telephony bundle.

Consumer protection
ConsuWijzer is the consumer point of contact acting on behalf of OPTA, the Consumer Authority (CA) and the Netherlands Competition Authority (NMa). In 2010, approximately 100,000 queries and complaints from consumers were received by ConsuWijzer. Almost a third of these complaints (31,428) were related to telecommunications or postal issues. Most of the complaints received by OPTA had to do with telemarketing (12,385), followed by mobile phones (6,457) and SMS services (3,329).
Telemarketing. The top 5 complaints related to telemarketing in 2010 concerned telephony & television (12%), energy (12%), lotteries (11%), newspapers & magazines (8%) and worthy causes (7%). OPTA has begun to investigate some 48 cases for suspected violation of the telemarketing rules. These companies are responsible for approximately 80% of the complaints received by ConsuWijzer. In the meantime OPTA has imposed over 1.2 million euros in fines against seven parties, four of whom are energy companies. OPTA is not in a position to name these companies for the time being, due to the legal proceedings that are pending.
Spam. In 2010, OPTA received 27,251 complaints via Of these, OPTA investigated 98 possible violations of the spam prohibition, 38 of which ended in a warning. On further investigation, OPTA found there was no violation in 23 cases. In three cases, OPTA imposed fines totalling almost six hundred thousand euros. It is expected that the remaining cases will be dealt with during 2011.


See also