The Budapest Business Journal reports that Hungary’s industry regulator, the National Media and Infocommunications Authority (NMHH), has committed to making full use of its precious mobile frequency spectrum as soon as possible in a drive to boost competition and bring down retail prices. On Tuesday, the watchdog said that domestic rates for mobile tariffs – and especially those for smartphone (i.e. data) plans – are currently ‘several times’ higher than similar packages in other European markets. It attributes the relatively high costs to the low mobile internet penetration rate in Hungary, which at 18.7% is the lowest in Europe behind Belgium with 25.9%.
The NMHH argues that in countries where retail prices are more affordable, the market is typically home to at least four mobile network operators. Its observation is a thinly veiled reference to its failed efforts to license a fourth player in the country. Last month TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate reported that Hungary’s highest court, the Curia, annulled a mobile frequency auction that would have facilitated the launch of a fourth network operator in the shape of state-owned vehicle MPVI Mobil. In its 26 February ruling, the Curia adjudged that the tender was ‘unlawful’, upholding a previous ruling from the Budapest Metropolitan Court and following an appeal by rival telecoms operators against the original licence award in January 2012. The Curia’s decision means the launch of would-be start-up, state-backed MPVI Mobil, will now be postponed or cancelled.