WARSAW, Aug 7 (Reuters) - Polish telecoms watchdog UKE plans to slash the fees mobile firms charge each other to terminate calls on their networks in two strikes next year, in a small concession to operators who complain they will be hit hard by the cuts.
The regulator, in line with a Europe-wide drive to slash cellphone bills, has already pushed operators to significantly cut mobile termination rates (MTRs) over the last few years and help support new competition to the three leading players.
Top player TPSA, Deutsche Telekom’s PTC, and Polkomtel will see MTR cut by 33 percent at the start of 2013 and then by a further 52 percent to a final 0.0429 zlotys ($0.01) per minute their clients reach a caller on a competitor’s network in July 2013, UKE said on Tuesday.
The move, currently in consultations with operators, will also end MTR asymmetry in Poland. The No.4 player, P4, currently charges higher fees to spur competition in a market where the top three control around 84 percent.
It is also a step back from UKE’s earlier plans. Earlier this year, the watchdog’s chief Magdalena Gaj told Reuters she wanted to eliminate MTR completely in 2013.
“We believe the new proposal is a change for the better. The initial stance of the regulator was for a single large cut to the target level starting from January 2013,” ING analyst Andrzej Kubacki wrote in a research note.
“But the improvement is not significant, giving the incumbent mobile operators just an extra six months of higher rates, before reaching the target level.”
UKE became a thorn in the side of France Telecom unit TPSA under the leadership of Gaj’s predecessor, Anna Strezynska, who levied huge fines on the company and forced it and competitors to reduce termination fees by more than three quarters.
$1 = 3.2534 Polish zlotys Reporting by Adrian Krajewski; Editing by Mark Potter