GSM World Congress 2009, Barcelona, Spain
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Punching above their weight as always, the Mobile Challengers were out in force at this year’s GSM World Congress, entertaining over a hundred registered media at a dedicated press event at the City’s stunning Maritime Museum for their third annual event, a press conference and reception attended by five CEOs: Thorsten Dirks of E-Plus, Libor Voncina of Base, Christian Salbaing of Hutchison Europe, Luigi Gubitosi of Wind and Chris Bannister of Play.
Specific issues discussed included spectrum frequency allocation, roaming, switching costs and mobile termination rates. Luigi Gubitosi, presenting on behalf of the group, questioned the theme of the European Commission’s “Europe without barriers” vision, expressing concern that regulatory regimes are at risk of neglecting consumer welfare as large mobile operators begin to use the current economic crisis as an argument to justify and strengthen their dominant positions.
“As the economic climate worsens we’ve noticed that some incumbent operators have threatened to increase prices following the proposed reductions in Mobile Termination Rates,” he commented. “This is absolutely unacceptable and the EU should be intervening to prevent this situation from happening. The Mobile Challengers Group believes that free competition is the best stimulant for economic growth and investments, while the economic crisis should not be turned into an excuse to turn the clock of liberalization back”.
Top of the agenda at the conference was how Challengers could keep up their successful record of competing with incumbents in terms of value, service and innovation at a time when their ability to challenge effectively was being undermined by regulatory shortcomings at the national and EC level and the threat of consolidation.