PHONE CONVERSATIONS' PRICES SHOULD DROP
Benefits to users will amount to almost EUR150MN till 2010 if prices for transfer of conversations between fixed and mobile telephone networks are cut down, an analysis of Industry Watch on the telecom market's state shows.
According to experts, in the last few years telephone services account of some 5.5-6% of expenses in family budgets and the reduction of fees by 10% on average would result in a 0.6% drop in the total expenses of households for the entire country.
Bulgarian Telecommunications Company (BTC) AD is the only enterprise for which regulation of wholesale prices of services and of some retail prices was planned in the 2004 - 2007 period. Of all EU countries Bulgaria and Slovenia are the only ones with different tariffs for transfer of conversations, depending on the kind of the network from which the outgoing call comes (mobile or fixed). That is a result of the regulated wholesale prices of the traditional fixed operator, the analysis reads.
Industry Watch points out that the high prices for connecting BTC's network with those of MobilTel and GloBul have led to considerable disproportions of tariffs. Due to that the average retail price for calls from a fixed to a mobile phone is BGN0.58 while a conversation from a GSM to BTC is much cheaper, costing BGN0.20. The highest margin between wholesale and retail prices is realized when connecting mobile networks with other fixed networks (61%) and of mobile networks with BTC (54%). This margin is considerably lower when connecting BTC with mobile networks (36%) and other fixed networks with mobile operators, the document says.
Over the last three years tariffs for connection between a fixed to a mobile network in Bulgaria have decreased by only 4% while in the same period the respective average prices in the EU cheapened by 34% or by some 13% a year. The biggest drops in wholesale prices for 2007 were reported by Slovenia (-53%), Belgium (-36%), Austria (-26%), Germany and France (-20%).
Industry Watch notes that the activities of the Commission for Regulation of Communications in Bulgaria are for the time being more modest than the expectations and Brussels' recommendations that the average wholesale prices for transfer of phone calls in mobile networks should be reduced by up to 70 per cent.