June 16, 2013 / 9:48 AM / 5 years ago

T-Mobile plans new Austria rates in July -newspaper

VIENNA, June 16 (Reuters) - Deutsche Telekom unit T-Mobile will unveil new mobile phone rates in Austria next month that aim to help halt slumping revenue there by focusing on how much data customers want, its Austrian head told the Der Standard newspaper.

Prices for mobile phone service in Austria have stayed under pressure even after Hutchison Whampoa’s takeover of Orange Austria cut the number of rivals to three. Telekom Austria and T-Mobile also battle for share in the Austrian market of 8.4 million people.

“The industry is not yet healed, but it increasingly recognises that the future of mobile communications is in the field of mobile data,” Andreas Bierwirth said in the weekend interview, noting Telekom Austria had led the way with its new rates.

“It’s getting away from all-inclusive packages where data are sold as extra income on voice and SMS, to new data plans, where voice and SMS are the extra income,” he said.

“We too will be launching a new tariff model in July. I believe this is significant momentum so that we as an industry can reduce the revenue decline in the years ahead and then things will stabilise.”

He said the test will come this summer when Orange Austria customers can switch providers, adding T-Mobile had to be able to lure some away or else question how strong it really is.

Bierwirth said T-Mobile’s expansion of its network to handle fourth-generation LTE technology was on hold at around 12 percent while it awaited the launch of devices that use LTE.

“It depends as well on the outcome of the (Austrian) spectrum auction in the autumn. But I can clearly promise that we will roll out at the same speed as the competition and that we will be level with A1 (Telekom Austria) at the end of 2014.”

Asked about calls by Neelie Kroes, Europe’s top telecoms regulator, to abolish roaming charges in the EU, he said:

“I find that exciting. Kroes has also said that telecom companies must be given back more power because an enormous amount of companies’ investment power has been sucked out by the regulatory framework. Of course we are preparing that this market opens. Technically, however, this is not easy.” (Reporting by Michael Shields; editing by Jason Neely)

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