Mobile operator, now in second year, says it now conforms to government edict
We wanted all the [Mobile] companies to be in a win-win situation."
SMART Mobile will launch a new mobile-phone tariff today nearly one month after changing its rates to conform to the government’s pricing prakas.
In a press release Monday, Smart Mobile announced the launch of its XtraLong tariff. Phone calls on the plan will cost US$0.05 per minute for on-network calls and $0.07 per minute for across-network calls, to be measured at 15-second intervals. Phone credit can be used within a year.
The move marks the second tariff change for Smart Mobile within one month. On February 9, the company decided to revise prices upwards on its WOW tariff to $0.05 per minute to conform to a government prakas issued late last year setting minimum prices.
In December, mobile-phone operators were ordered by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPTC) and the Ministry of Finance to raise in-network tariffs to at least $0.045 per minute in a bid to end a price war that the government felt was undermining profits in the sector.
A crunch meeting held last month asked mobile-phone companies to conform to the ruling. Companies were warned they faced a possible three-month suspension of operating licences if they did not conform, prompting a flurry of tariff changes in the market from companies such as Smart Mobile, qb and Mfone.
“This new tariff also conforms with the regulations, and overall, from our point of view, it is the best tariff in the market and will be very attractive to potential customers,” Smart Mobile CEO Thomas Hundt said Monday.
He added that “for the time being” the WOW tariff will continue. He also stated that Smart Mobile, which celebrated its first anniversary Saturday, also plans to launch new services and products in the future. He refused to disclose what those services would be.
“We are quite happy with what we have achieved so far,” he said.
Smart Mobile is not the only company to change its price plans in the weeks following the government crackdown on prices. On February 23, the Post reported that Moscow-based firm Beeline had raised rates to conform with regulations.
On Saturday, Beeline customers received a new text offering rates of $0.03 per minute to use its mobile Internet service.
A spokesman for the company declined to answer questions on the phone when contacted Monday and failed to reply to emails.
It seems, however, that the government is content with progress made.
In an interview with the Post late last month, MPTC Director General Moa Chakrya said nine companies had written individual letters to the ministry saying they are compliant with the prakas on pricing and interconnectivity. He added that the policy “had worked”.
“We implemented this policy because we wanted all the companies to be in a win-win situation. We want all the companies to do business well and on the other hand, we want the users to be treated fairly and be offered appropriate prices,” he said.
“If you have had three children, you’d want to raise them in the same living conditions – this would make the mother happy.”