EC orders Belgacom to cut fixed line tariffs

24 Oct 2008

The European Commission, the executive of the European Union (EU), has told Belgium’s telecoms watchdog to bring down immediately the fixed line prices charged by the country’s incumbent operator, Belgacom, reports Reuters. ‘The lack of effective competition and high tariffs in the Belgian markets for fixed voice calls could result from an ineffective implementation of telecoms regulation,’ the EU executive said in a statement, adding that ‘BIPT should also revise its price control obligation imposed on Belgacom, the telecoms incumbent, to allow Belgian customers to make cheaper calls as soon as possible.’ EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding said fixed line call prices in Belgium were among the highest in the 27-country EU and had barely moved in the past three years, but Belgacom’s market share had risen. She said that it cost EUR0.21 to make a three minute local call in Belgium compared with an EU average of less than EUR0.10, adding the comment, ‘This is simply not acceptable for Belgian consumers. The European Commission will keep a very close eye on the Belgian market. We ask the Belgian telecoms regulator to come back to us on this issue within a year’s time.’ She also mentioned that all national telecom regulators have the possibility to use tools such as price caps on retail tariffs. ‘We recommend that the Belgian regulator makes full use of the instruments available to them under EU telecom rules,’ said Reding. Belgacom responded by saying its prices were not excessive, that it used a single national tariff and that calls were free at certain times.

Belgium, Proximus