Bulgarians, who pay the highest prices for mobile calls across the European Union, will welcome the new year with good news for lower bills from their mobile operators, the regulatory authority has promised.
Bulgaria's watchdog, the Communications Regulation Commission (CRC), will undertake steps to resume cuts to mobile rates and bring them down to and below EU average, Veselin Bozhkov, the regulatory authority head, commented for the morning broadcast of bTV on Thursday.
The cut in mobile calls prices can be by up to 25%, Bozhkov forecast.
"It is unacceptable for mobile operators to pile up whopping profits of 100%. During my meetings with colleagues from the European independent regulatory authorities, they are always surprised as to high big the profits of Bulgarian operators are," he added.
The heated debate over the exorbitant prices Bulgarians pay for mobile calls was triggered by the European Commission warning that it will sanction the country over the inflated prices mobile operators charge clients here.
The Commission is about to issue recommendations which the Bulgarian regulatory authority CRC will be "obliged to take into utmost account", Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes said, as cited by EurActive.
The statement came in reply to a question by Andrey Kovachev, MEP from the ruling party GERB, who inquired how the commission plans to resume cuts to mobile termination rates,
Bulgaria's watchdog, the Communications Regulation Commission (CRC) cut termination rates to 6.64 eurocents/min (July 2010) under Brussels pressure, but while the EU average already stands below 4.91 eurocents/min, levels in Bulgaria remain unchanged.
The government in Sofia and the regulatory body however seem to have no efficient tools to force the operators into bringing prices down.
In letters seen by EurActiv, the CRC has threatened the mobile operators with sanctions, but these appear ridiculously low compared to the companies' profits. One such sanction warns a mobile operator of a fine from 50 to 1000 leva (25 to 500 euro) per week. Although the Commission has asked the CRC to bring termination rates down to at least EU average levels several times, there has been little or virtually or no response.