The five mobile operators are to cut their tariffs for mobile call termination. As a result, the tariffs for calling from a fixed telephone to a mobile telephone in the Netherlands will decrease significantly. The decrease, which will take place in three stages starting with a first cut on 1 January 2004, was proposed by the operators to the telecom regulator OPTA and the Dutch Competition Authority NMa. In total, the MTA tariffs will be decreased by approximately 50% by 1 December 2005.
The proposal followed a failed attempt by OPTA to regulate the markets for mobile terminating access tariffs (MTA-tariffs), numerous disputes among the operators and an ongoing investigation by the NMa. The NMa has announced that it will terminate its investigation of the MTA-tariffs. OPTA has issued a policy statement in which it informs the market on the proposed decrease in tariffs.
In its policy statement of 4th December 2003 (available on www.opta.nl), OPTA sets out the proposal of the mobile operators and considers that its acceptance of the proposal was in the interest of consumers and the market for the following reasons. The question of whether OPTA is competent to regulate the MTA-tariffs under the existing legal framework will not be decided before mid 2004 and OPTA does not expect to be able to exercise its powers under the new EC legal framework before 2005. Moreover, even if OPTA would be able to force the mobile operators to lower their MTA-tariffs, this would not directly result in lower prices for end-users. Finally, the telecom sector will profit from an end to the uncertainty over the level of MTA tariffs.
OPTA emphasizes that the agreed decrease in MTA-tariffs does not preclude OPTA from exercising its powers under the new EC legal framework. This could lead to a further decrease in MTA tariffs on or after 1 December 2005, e.g. on the basis of an LRIC (long run incremental cost) model.