EU data confirms rip-off phone tariffs in the Czech Republic

Mobile services are much more expensive in the Czech Republic than in any other EU country according to the latest figures.

William Nattrass

Written by William Nattrass Published on 30.11.2021 12:57:00 (updated on 30.11.2021) Reading time: 2 minutes

The Czech Republic’s mobile network has come in for sharp criticism in recent times. It’s well known that people in this country pay more for mobile services than those in other countries; while network sharing agreements between providers have been the subject of scrutiny over possible breaches of EU competition law.

The latest data published by the European Commission has now confirmed the problem of over-priced phone tariffs in the Czech Republic, while suggesting the problem is even greater than previously thought.

The survey assigned scores from 1 to 4 for prices of tariffs with various combinations of mobile data and minutes. Incredibly, the Czech Republic scored the lowest mark in eleven out of twelve categories, scoring a marginally better 3 for tariffs with a very high amount of data but no minutes (20 GB data, 0 minutes).

All three of the main mobile operators in the Czech Republic were included in the study: Vodafone, O2 Czech Republic and T-Mobile. The woeful scores obtained across all categories, from the cheapest tariffs to those with large amounts of data and minutes, shines an even greater spotlight on the three operators, begging the question of why these large multinational companies cannot bring to Czech clients the same value they offer in other markets.

Although the fieldwork for the survey was carried out a year ago, little has changed in the Czech mobile network since then. In fact, providers have only come in for greater criticism. A preliminary assessment by the European Commission recently found that a network sharing agreement between O2 Czech Republic and T-Mobile CZ may break EU competition law by reducing their incentive to make significant investments into the Czech mobile network. Similar concerns were also raised about a sharing agreement also in place between T-Mobile and infrastructure provider CETIN.

In the light of the latest evidence of high network prices in the Czech Republic, concerns will grow that, thanks to limited competition, Czech consumers are lining the pockets of multinational companies collaborating to maintain the status quo.

The data is particularly worrying given that cheap tariffs can be found in neighboring countries such as Slovakia and Poland which finished in 12th and 1st place in the study respectively. Poland scored the highest possible mark for every single mobile tariff evaluated in the study.

Whether EU pressure on operators will be successful in opening up the Czech mobile market for greater competition is hard to predict. Commentators have noted the huge amounts invested by operators in legal aid to fight the case for maintaining their sharing agreements: a manager from one of the companies in question anonymously told E15 that “for what we have invested in this case, we could covered large parts of Prague with 5G.”

Yet in their long-running battle with regulators, it’s Czech consumers who continue to be the biggest losers.

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