OPINION

Competition in telecoms sector

Although deregulating the telecommunications market has significantly reduced prices and provided a number of new services, Greek consumers are still stuck with a huge bill. Greeks pay far more for telecommunication services than the average consumer does in the European Union, according to data. That’s due to the dominance of OTE Telecom in the market as well as the oligopolistic structure of the mobile telephony sector. These two factors have created distortions in the marketplace that cannot be overcome by the high demand for these services. However, these rigidities in the telecommunications market are not limited to Greece. Indeed, every member of the EU has the same history in its telecommunications sector and has weathered similar problems. In other countries, however, the principles governing healthy competition prevail. And these principles prevent under-the-table agreements that strangle or otherwise skew the market. So the key to getting the market to behave as it is supposed to is to remove obstacles to competition. In Greece, we have seen that whenever the Competition Commission and the National Telecommunications Commission have intervened to stamp out price setting by the telephone companies, their efforts have borne fruit and prices have fallen. Considering this history, the solution should be to impose stricter controls on the functioning of the market. Businesses must be free to compete, not to undermine competition. It is the job of the independent authorities to guarantee this. For Greece to move forward in this area, the authorities must do that job more effectively and more strictly.