Sunday
September 21, 2014

In the three major companies

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Mobile phone bills see increases of between eight and 14 percent

By Fermín Koop
Herald Staff
Mere days after the federal government unveiled a price agreement for pre-paid mobile phones, the country’s three main mobile-phone operators — Claro, Movistar and Personal — implemented rate hikes for their clients with post-paid plans of between eight to 14 percent.

Movistar increased its plans an average 9.5 percent, including the costs of text messages, Internet access and the cost of making a call. The increase goes from 8.7 percent to 13 percent according to the plan and affects 30 percent of Movistar clients, sources at the company told the Herald. No hikes were implemented on pre-paid plans.

“This is the first increase that Movistar imposes so far this year. The price variation was announced well in advance in the customers’ bills, as the law requires, and it will start being applied in August or September, depending on the payment date of each customer,” sources at the company said.

For its part, Personal will increase its fixed-plans an average 14 percent starting September 15, affecting 32 percent of its customers, sources at Personal told the Herald. Pre-paid plans also will not suffer any increases.

“All pre-paid Personal customers, which represent 68 percent of the company’s total customers, will not see any price increases, as they have been since January 2013,” sources at the company said.

Rate hikes were also implemented by Claro. Fixed-rate plans rose an average 10 percent in July, an increase that was notified to the clients in advanced in their bills, as the Herald verified. When asked about the increases, Claro declined to comment.

The three companies had already implemented rate hikes for their customers of between nine to 18 percent in March, promising more investment to improve their networks with the extra funds. All plans also became more expensive in February due to a new scheme implemented by the Communication Secretariat, according to which clients are now charged by the second rather than by the minute.

The government officially announced this week the incorporation of the pre-paid mobile phone sector into the Price Watch scheme of quarterly price reviews. Calls to any other cellular devices will be available at 1.47 pesos per 30 seconds as of August 15. From the 31st second onward, each second will then cost the caller five cents, regardless of the company of those who made and received the call, but customers will have to call their provider to opt in on what has been dubbed the National Top-Up Plan (Plan Prepago Nacional).

@ferminkoop

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