Weak competition despite liberalisation in telecommunication

PORTUGAL IS one of the countries in the European Union that least benefits from competition in the telecommunications market.

Despite the fact that the market has been formally liberalised for six years, the continued lack of operator choice, coupled with high internet charges, dissuades many people from opting for broadband, concludes a study carried out by Regulatory Scorecard on behalf of the European Competitive Communications Association.

While legal statues and resources at a national level are considered adequate, concrete promotional regulatory measures for telephone and internet market access are among the worst in Europe. In other words, there is little available choice apart from key players Optimus, TMN and Vodaphone.

However, Portugal was ahead of countries like Greece, Poland, Hungar and the Czech Republic, which offered clients even less choice when it came to telecommunications service providers.

The statistics also cast doubt on the Portuguese government’s stated intentions to create opportunity for mass broadband internet access by cutting monopolies and pressuring the operators into making prices among the cheapest in Europe.

ANACOM, the national authority for communications and the regulatory body for this sector in Portugal, has shouted down the criticism by saying that various measures had already been taken to overcome access difficulties. “Normally, there is a delay between taking decisions and market production,” says ANACOM spokesperson Ilda Matos. ANACOM claims that some internet prices could fall by as much as 10 per cent, while the number of new clients has quadrupled since the beginning of the year.