Czech govt wants to shake up regulator, cut mobile prices

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The Czech Industry and Trade Ministry Monday said it would seek to shake up the board of the country’s telecommunications regulator, or CTU, in its bid to boost competition on the local cellular market.

“CTU should ensure that competition on the local market drives lower prices for Czech households,” minister Martin Kuba told a news conference.”This is key especially ahead of the upcoming auction of new [mobile] bandwidth.”

The ministry wants to appoint Ondrej Maly, a former journalist covering the telecoms industry, to the five-person CTU board, pending government approval, Kuba said.

Click here to find out more!Moreover, the ministry would seek to appoint another new CTU board member this summer when the term of an existing member is expiring, Kuba said without elaborating. CTU is scheduled to release the terms of the frequency bandwidth auction later this month and hold the bidding by September.

Maly has criticized the regulator for dragging its feet on unveiling the auction terms and whether it will limit the bandwidth sale to new market entrants to increase competition in the sector. “At the moment no one active on the market knows what they can expect from the auction,” Maly said Monday, adding that other European regulators, including the U.K.’s Ofcom, communicate with the public actively and often. CTU would welcome the new board appointment, Frantisek Malina, the watchdog spokesman said.

The local market is dominated by Czech units of three major Western European operators: Telefonica SA, Deutsche Telekom AG’s T-Mobile and Vodafone Group PLC. The upcoming bandwidth auction is also expected to help speed up the roll-out of new high-speed mobile networks with long-term evolution technology, the successor to third-generation, or 3G, mobile data services. The auction will also raise badly needed budget revenue as the Czech government seeks to slash expenditure to contain its budget deficit.