Kolbi cries foul over Sutel pricing discrepancy

26 Jan 2016

Costa Rican fixed line incumbent Grupo Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (Grupo ICE) – which offers telecoms services under the Kolbi brand – has begun legal proceedings against sector watchdog the Superintendency of Telecommunications (Superintendencia de Telecomunicaciones, Sutel) for loss of income as a result of a discrepancy in Sutel’s tariff setting. Local news portal El Pais writes that the operator is seeking CRC15.644 billion (USD28.46 million) in lost revenue on calls made between November 2011 and June 2015, plus CRC1.611 billion in interest. In its claim, Kolbi notes that the price ceiling set by Sutel in 2009 – CRC29.49 per minute for pre-paid calls and CRC30.00 for post-paid calls – is lower than the cost of making such calls, determined by the regulator as part of a margin squeezing case against Kolbi.

According to the Sutel resolution (RCS-088-2015), the cost to an operator of originating and terminating calls is CRC17.95 per minute, for a total of CRC35.90 per minute – CRC6.41 more than the maximum amount that Kolbi is permitted to charge customers per minute for pre-paid calls and CRC5.9 more than the post-paid price ceiling. Kolbi’s head of regulatory relations, Jose Luis Navarro was quoted as saying: ‘With this resolution, Sutel is tacitly acknowledging that the maximum rates for end users (CRC30) are CRC5.9 below the cost of origination and termination a call on mobiles.’