ECONOMY

Watchdog approves new OTE tariffs

The National Telecommunications and Post Commission (EETT) yesterday gave the green light to telecoms operator OTE’s rebalanced tariffs, which were first announced in November last year and intended to help the company counter impending competition on the home front from new entrants making their debut this year. Under the new cost structure, local and international calls will be cheaper by 16 to 23 percent, declines which are, however, offset by a 21 percent hike in fixed charges. Local calls will cost 0.026 euros (8.86 drachmas) a minute, overseas calls 0.063 euros (21.47 drachmas) a minute, and the fixed monthly charge will be 9.98 euros (3,400 drachmas). The last is lower than the 3,500 drachmas requested by OTE. EETT gave its approval after auditing OTE’s costs. Konstantinos Karitsos, telecoms analyst at Intersec Securities, said higher fixed monthly charges would boost revenues from idle users. «OTE wants to increase revenues from customers with low usage, especially those with two homes, one in the city and another in the country,» he said. While the company is taking action to protect its market share, it is not expected to face any serious threat from the new telecoms operators launching operations this year. EETT has yet to decide on the interconnecting fees between the incumbent and the new entrants. The new tariff also puts an end to the present dual-pricing system whereby calls are cheaper at off-peak hours. EETT said it will announce at a later time when the new charges are due to come into effect. The commission also slashed charges for leased lines, with reductions ranging from 17 to 47 percent depending on whether they are analog or digital lines and their capacity. The new charges will be effective as of this Sunday. In the meantime, OTE is due to hold an extraordinary general assembly today. It plans to seek shareholders’ approval for the spinoff of its telephone directories, international operations and real estate assets. It also wants shareholders to endorse a stock option plan for employees.