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    Telenet raises user prices

    The Federal Minister responsible for telecommunications, Alexander De Croo (Open VLD), wants a fourth mobile player in Belgium to increase competition and thereby lower the price of telecommunications services. Good idea? Bad idea, according to Telenet who, besides criticising the minister’s suggestion, announced, today, rate increases for its users.

    One to three euro per month will soon be added to your Telent bill. That’s what Ann Caluwaerts, Chief Corporate Affairs at Telenet, confirmed on the VRT’s Radio 1 programme, De Ochtend. She explained that the increases are necessary to cover the extensive expenditures Telenet plans to make.

    According to Caluwaerts: ”Today, 100 times more traffic flows through our networks than 10 years ago, and that costs money. We are making a small price adjustment today in order to fund these huge investments – for Telenet alone this year 600 million euro.”

    The rate increase is expected to into effect on 23 July. The Wigo 100 (mobile, data, digital TV) will go up by three euro per month. Mobile customers will have to pay an additional one euro, as the monthly subscription goes up to 15.5 euro.

    Telenet waited longer than usual to announce these subscription rate increases. In recent years the prices were increased in February.

    In response to Minister De Croo’s allegation that the price of telecommunications in Belgium is higher than in other countries, Caluwaerts disputes the statement: ”Prices are competitive, and if you look at the revenue from mobile service today, you see that they are declining in our country, and the customer is getting more and more for less money.”

    Telenet’s timing is striking, given that the price increases were announced the day after Minister De Croo’s call for a fourth national provider. “But Minister De Croo is only focused on the price,” says Caluwaerts. “The consumer also wants quality.” Caluwaerts claims that quality will be compromised if an additional telecommunications player enters the market.

    Arthur Rubinstein
    The Brussels Times