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OCU calls for regulation of virtual mobile operators to ensure competition

22 feb. 2017

Given the proposal of the CNMC to withdraw the regulations that oblige to facilitate the agreements between network operators and virtual mobile operators, OCU considers it a dangerous step for consumers since this deregulation puts at risk the current competition of the sector. 

According to OCU, the CNMC draws an excessively positive outlook for competition in the sector, alluding to the existence of more than 30 virtual mobile operators that has been reaching agreements with the different network operators. According to data from the CNMC itself, MVNOs belonging to Movistar, Orange and Vodafone billed almost 50% of the revenues of virtual mobile operators in 2016. 

OCU recalls that in order to reach the current agreements it was necessary the normative development that allowed the imposition of these agreements in the face of the evidences of blockades by the network operators. This blocking intention we were able to revive recently with the entry of 4G that the network operators delayed or blocked directly, forcing some virtual operators to have to break their current agreements in order to look for better alternatives, with the consequent detriment to their customers and for consumers. 

Likewise, OCU considers that current competition has been drastically compromised by the concentration of telecommunication supply. This situation has led to the loss of different price and service options to the consumer as the main alternative operators are in the hands of the network operators, and therefore these alternative operators are subject to the interests of the corporate group where they are integrated. 

As an example OCU recalls how the telecommunications market in Spain is distributed: 

Network operators vs. alternative operators that belong to the same:

Movistar: Tuenti

Vodafone: Lowi and ONO

Orange: Simyo (and Amena as second brand)

Masmovil: Yoigo, Happy Mobile and Pepephone

The market share of virtual mobile operators outside these groups is marginal and only regional cable operators have relevance in their territory. Deregulation could put even more competition at risk in this market and affect by extension the rest of the telephony market (fixed telephony, internet ...).

Therefore, OCU asks the government and the competent administration not to accept the proposal of the CNMC. Or in the worst case, that it be valued to temporarily delay this regulation to a time when competition in the sector can be assured.

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