Mr Johan Vande Lanotte, in his capacity as Minister of Consumer Affairs, has made some interesting remarks regarding the Belgian telecom and cable industry during his appearance on ‘Het Nieuws’, a Flemish news program.
The main new element was the fact that the Minister will ask mobile carriers to speed up the conversion of their backbook and as such bring subscribers on the new and more favorably priced tariff plans (from a consumer point-of-view that is). He stated that if the companies were to be unwilling to do so, he is considering a mandatory conversion. Per the Minister’s estimates, this would affect approximately 1.0m customer in Belgium.
The Minister continued by scheduling a date for the earlier announced ‘Dare to compare ‘campaign, which would take place somewhere in November of this year. Further, the Minister commented that he judged the pricing of triple-play packs to be ‘obscure’ and that he expected the planned opening of the cable to bring some solace for the consumer.
Our View & Conclusion:
This news means that backbook repricing in Belgium has not come to an end and that after the repricing induced by the telco law and the ensuing more vigorous competitive landscape, possible regulation in the near future (i.e. months) could further erode revenues and profitability of Belgian mobile carriers. Furthermore, we believe this news affects Mobistar to a lesser extent vis-a-vis its peers, given that the company has already made efforts to ensure that all its clients get the maximumbenefit from the most competitive tariffs (see Mobistar press release of May 7 and their ‘Personal Check Up’ service).