VIENNA May 19 Telekom Austria is struggling to process a wave of contract cancellations after it raised basic tariff prices for existing customers, a spokeswoman said on Monday.
Austria's biggest telecoms operator, which has led a trend in mobile price increases in recent months, said in March it would raise tariffs for about a million customers by 1.90 euros ($2.60) per month.
The first of the customers were informed on March 18 or 19 of the change, and had a two-month deadline to cancel their contracts and take their number with them to a new carrier.
Austrian newspaper Der Standard reported at the weekend that Telekom Austria's IT systems were struggling to cope with the volume of requests.
"Due to the increased volume of requests because of this cancellation deadline there are currently outages and delays in the processing of applications. We are working as hard as possible to correct this," the Telekom Austria spokeswoman said.
Mobile tariffs in Austria, for years Europe's lowest, have risen sharply in recent months following a consolidation of the market to three carriers, and an expensive spectrum auction at the end of last year that cost the operators 2 billion euros.
The second-biggest mobile carrier T-Mobile has also raised some prices, but less aggressively than Telekom Austria, while smallest player Drei (part of Hutchison Whampoa ) told Reuters last week it would continue to offer "attractive conditions". ($1 = 0.7297 Euros) (Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by David Holmes)