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IS MNP CURRENTLY OF ANY REAL BENEFIT TO CUSTOMERS?

26. January 2006

Oskar Vodafone is urging the Czech Telecommunications Office to set the level of MNP inter-operator fees, and to continue to work towards more customer-friendly and less cumbersome MNP procedures for customers. When a customer ports his number to a new mobile operator, the new mobile operator has to pay a fee to the old operator, to compensate it for the cost incurred during porting. At the moment, however, operators have not agreed on the level of this fee, and current proposals range from less than 100 CZK to more than 2000 CZK per number. As a result, a dispute has been submitted to CTU for resolution, and Oskar Vodafone is urging the regulator to set a low inter-operator fee as soon as possible and deal with the current uncertainty that could discourage customers from porting their numbers. The level of the inter-operator fee is critical for customers, as it will be reflected in the end price charged to them for porting their numbers.

Oskar Vodafone is urging the Czech Telecommunications Office to set the level of MNP inter-operator fees, and to continue to work towards more customer-friendly and less cumbersome MNP procedures for customers.

When a customer ports his number to a new mobile operator, the new mobile operator has to pay a fee to the old operator, to compensate it for the cost incurred during porting. At the moment, however, operators have not agreed on the level of this fee, and current proposals range from less than 100 CZK to more than 2000 CZK per number. As a result, a dispute has been submitted to CTU for resolution, and Oskar Vodafone is urging the regulator to set a low inter-operator fee as soon as possible and deal with the current uncertainty that could discourage customers from porting their numbers. The level of the inter-operator fee is critical for customers, as it will be reflected in the end price charged to them for porting their numbers. Despite the fact that the end price for customers has now been set as low as 1 CZK, it is obvious that if costs of porting between operators is set too high, operators will need to make adjustments, either by increasing the end price, or slashing other benefits, such as greater handset subsidies or lower call rates.

Another unresolved issue involves the penalty imposed by operators to contract customers wanting to port their numbers before their contracts have ended. Currently, operators require the customer to pay a penalty that is equivalent to what the customers would have paid for the remainder of the contract. “This is completely unacceptable” says Andre Jerome, VP of legal & Regulatory, “under the current rules, operators are not allowed to use term contracts, which can otherwise be very useful, to unduly prevent customers from changing from one operator for another. If a customer wants to terminate a contract the penalty should be reasonable, and not so high that it makes the termination impossible.” Oskar Vodafone hopes that the CTU will quickly resolve this situation, which currently prevents many customers who would like to change operators from doing so.

Since the very beginning of the MNP negotiations, Oskar Vodafone has consistently advocated an easy, fast and affordable process for customers. “This is a priority for Oskar Vodafone. It’s reflected in the fact that we have always promoted a solution that allows customers to exercise their right to move their numbers to a chosen operator with the minimum of effort, cost and time. That was, after all, the vision of the EU Regulatory Framework. To meet our legal requirements to launch MNP before January 15th we were forced to proceed with a less effective solution for customers, but we expect that the CTU will continue to work with operators, mandate changes and find a more customer-friendly solution as soon as possible, so as to comply with its own legal obligations,” says Jerome.

The current lack of regulation allows operators to put in place internal procedures, which may hinder the customers right to choose the operator suits their needs and requirements best. For example, an operator that feels threatened by loosing customers may, under the current circumstances, make life very difficult for customers wanting to port their number by either refusing a porting request for dubious reasons, or simply unnecessarily delaying its authorization in order to discourage and frustrate customers. Oskar Vodafone hopes that the regulator will shortly address these flaws to the current system; “after all, it is CTU’s job to fight for what is right for customers” Jerome says.