PRAGUE, April 29 Telefonica Czech Republic
expects a record rise in new contract customers in the
second quarter after cutting mobile rates and launching
unlimited calling packages as part of a price war shaking up the
Telefonica was the first to introduce new voice and data
packages priced from 249 crowns to 749 crowns ($12.61-$37.92) a
month just over two weeks ago, causing T-Mobile and
Vodafone to quickly match the offer.
"We expect a record gain of post-paid customers," Telefonica
spokesman Hany Farghali said. "More than 100,000 people have
requested activation of our new unlimited tariffs. The majority
of these have ordered the highest tariff."
He did not specify how many of those customers were existing
clients switching to the new tariffs and how many were new
The top package includes unlimited call time and text
messages and 1GB of data.
Telefonica CR had 5.1 million Czech mobile customers at the
end of 2012, with 3.2 million under contract. T-Mobile had 5.5
With customers often complaining the Czech market lacks
competition and that prices are high, the battle among operators
is the biggest shake-up in years and mirrors a turf war being
fought in neighbouring Germany.
Analysts also say the new packages -- and two-year contracts
that come with them -- allow the incumbent operators to protect
themselves against new virtual operators and the likely arrival
of a fourth operator this year if a new auction for frequencies
goes through as planned.
The price cuts, which analysts expect to put significant
pressure on margins, would make it more difficult for the new
entrant to launch services and win customers easily, they said.
($1 = 19.7520 Czech crowns)
(Reporting by Jan Korselt; writing by Jason Hovet; editing by