ANACOM president João Cadete Matos
ANACOM president João Cadete Matos believes government must act quickly to stop abusive practices within telecoms sector

Telecoms regulator demands review of deals tying customers to contracts

Abusive use of loyalty agreements “truly shocking”

The President of ANACOM, Portugal’s telecommunications regulator, has called on members of parliament to look again at the recent Electronic Communications Law (LCE) and “urgently” to correct the issue of clients being tied to contracts, to ensure the market “works competitively”. 

João Cadete de Matos was speaking in a session of the committee on economy, public works, planning and housing, as part of a hearing of ANACOM at the request of the Communist Party (PCP) on planned increases in telecoms and postal prices.

“For sure the law can be improved,” Matos stressed, acknowledging that several months after the LCE was approved, “changes were made” that he considers to be positive regarding the issue of client loyalty agreements, but arguing that this remains insufficient.

“We do not want to decide to end loyalty agreements; I guarantee that if we could do it, we would have no doubts in considering it,” continued Matos.

Earlier this month, AMACOM called for a reduction of the maximum period for which contracts can tie clients from two years to six months, in a bid to bring prices down, following the announcement of the three main operators, MEO (owned by Altice Portugal), NOS and Vodafone Portugal, that they were increasing prices this year (see box).

“Another thing we proposed and unfortunately was not in the law – it is worth wondering why it was not – was what the costs of loyalty were,” Matos said, arguing that it is “a hoax what the Portuguese are told are the advantages, in terms of ‘discounts’.”

This “idea of discounts, of advantages, this has to end in Portugal,” he went on. “I make this appeal to you: I know you looked at the Electronic Communications Law a few months ago, but I ask you to urgently look again and correct this.”

In the recent 5G auction, Nowo, Digi and Dense Air have acquired licences, he noted.

“We have conditions and we believe that it can happen in Portugal, as has happened in other European countries, that these companies” have “competitive offers, these companies are making their investments, acquiring their antennas and acquiring and doing their fibre optic expansion,” he said. “We will have competition in Portugal, but that is also why the re-loyalisation campaign has been so urgent: it is to prevent customers from being free to join” the new offers”.

The ANACOM president asked deputies to listen to the regulator and “defend the interests of the Portuguese people” by creating “market stimuli for it to work competitively.”

He confirmed that complaints in the sector “have increased” and promised that the regulator will “take measures” both in terms of supervision and sanctions, reiterating that the issue of abusive use of loyalty agreements is “truly shocking”.


Box: João Cadete Matos stressed that prices for telecommunications in Portugal are 20% above those practised in the European Union. In the last 12 years prices here have increased by 8% when in the other 27 member States that have fallen.

Says Expresso, Matos added: “There is no reason for current prices at all”.