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Fixed to mobile calls cheaper

OPTA decision: Fixed to mobile calls cheaper Advantage Dutch callers EUR 190 million over a period of three years Consumers are set to pay less for calls from fixed telephones to mobile phones in the Netherlands. Today the Commission of the Dutch Independent Post and Telecommunications Authority (OPTA) sent a draft decision to this effect to the European Commission. Through this decision OPTA will be regulating the tariffs which mobile phone providers are allowed to charge fixed telephone service providers for call transit to mobile phone subscribers. This tariff reduction will come into effect this summer. So-called mobile call terminating charges (MTA tariffs) are to be reduced by almost EUR 0.05 per minute in three stages. At present the average tariff amounts to EUR 0.12. On 1 July 2009 it will drop to about EUR 0.07. The reduction will be passed on to fixed telephone end users. As a result of this decision, consumers on the whole will save more than EUR 190 million over a period of three years. In 2003 these tariffs exceeded EUR 0.20 on average. At the end of 2003 and in the years that followed mobile phone providers reduced their tariffs to their current level in stages. This occurred in response to pressure exerted by OPTA and Dutch Competition authority (NMa). In May 2004 the Telecommunications Act (Telecommunicatiewet) was amended, thereby enabling OPTA to regulate tariffs. Review In 2005 OPTA decided to reduce MTA tariffs based on its new powers. Both the European Commission and NMa supported this decision. Nevertheless the Dutch Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal (CBb) ruled that the decision was not properly substantiated. In response to that ruling OPTA arranged for various external studies to be conducted. The findings of these studies confirmed OPTA’s previous conclusion that mobile phone providers hold a monopoly on their own network and that fixed telephone service providers do not have a bargaining position which is strong enough to secure lower tariffs. In addition, these studies have revealed that the current MTA tariffs are excessive and that there are grounds for OPTA to intervene. NMa has presented advice in favour of the draft decision. Certainty Acting at the invitation of the regulator and in the knowledge that OPTA would probably start regulating MTA tariffs, the mobile phone operators themselves made arrangements to reduce their tariffs. When finalising its draft decision, OPTA took these arrangements into account. Viewed against this background, the mobile phone providers have revealed that they do not intend to file an appeal to demand higher tariffs. In the words of Chris Fonteijn, OPTA’s chairman, “This is a straight gain. We have a properly substantiated outcome and will avoid lengthy, unpredictable proceedings. This will create certainty for consumers and the industry.” Tariffs The relevant tariffs are to be lowered in three stages which will give the mobile phone providers an opportunity to acclimatise to the new situation. This brings the tariffs below the European average. They charge different tariffs. This is related to the difference in the costs which these parties had to incur to create a network with national coverage. The following tariffs have been decided on (in euros per minute). Current Tariffs KPN, Vodafone: EUR 0.110 Tariffs Telfort, Tele2: EUR 0.124 Tariffs T-Mobile, Orange: EUR 0.124 1 July 2007* Tariffs KPN, Vodafone: EUR 0.100 Tariffs Telfort, Tele2: EUR 0.100 Tariffs T-Mobile, Orange: EUR 0.114 1 June 2008 Tariffs KPN, Vodafone: EUR 0.090 Tariffs Telfort, Tele2: EUR 0.090 Tariffs T-Mobile, Orange: EUR 0.104 1 April 2009 Tariffs KPN, Telfort, Vodafone: EUR 0.080 Tariffs Tele2: EUR 0.090 Tariffs T-Mobile, Orange: EUR 0.104 1 July 2009 Tariffs KPN, Telfort, Vodafone: EUR 0.070 Tariffs Tele2: EUR 0.070 Tariffs T-Mobile, Orange: EUR 0.081 * The date on which the new MTA tariffs are scheduled to come into effect is two weeks after OPTA publishes the final version of its decision. Publication is expected to