EC withdraws Czech plans for MVNO wholesale access

EC withdraws Czech plans for MVNO wholesale access

The European Commission (EC) stonewalled the Czech Telecommunication Office’s (CTO) plan to force MNOs to give  favourable wholesale access to MVNOs, deeming the move incompatible with EU law.

In a statement, the EC said the regulator notified the EU’s executive branch in November last year of its intentions, which it claimed will make the Czech mobile market more competitive and result in lower prices for customers.

The EC informed the CTO it had “serious doubt” for the policy to go through due to incapability with EU law, and has closed its in-depth investigation on the matter, now demanding the CTO to withdraw its draft measure to provide wholesale mobile access.

The body wrote the draft measure is not “sufficiently justified” and does not take into account the short to mid-term market developments. It added the criteria for joint dominance by the country’s three largest operators had not been met.

In the draft measure, the CTO stated retail prices for phones and plans are particularly high in the Czech Republic, and MVNOs are not able to provide competitive services due to incumbent operators O2, T-Mobile and Vodafone commanding “significant market power”.

The EC pointed to concessions O2 made after the country’s 2020 5G spectrum auction when it was obliged to provide national roaming of 5G spectrum at an attractive price to service providers CentroNet, Nordic Telecom and PODA.

The point the body was trying to make was that interested parties must move earlier particularly when a spectrum auction is scheduled, as concessions are expected of bidders which usually results in better prices for wholesale networks.

It also noted there are already favourable conditions for the market entry of a new mobile operator.  

The Czech regulator said in a statement it does not agree with the EC's decision and will consider further steps to lower prices for consumers, but did not state any detail. 

The CTO revealed its intentions to push through this measure last year and revealed there was a failure in keeping wholesale prices in check as data per megabit transferred between 2015 to 2020 was higher than or equal to the retail price.

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