TALLINN - Mobile phone users in Estonia have been slow to switch operators despite being able to keep their phone number, industry officials have said.
Bravocom, one of the low-cost operators launched on the market at the start of this year, about the time number "switchability" became available, estimates that no more than 18,500 customers switched providers during the first quarter of the year.
In January the Communications Board forecast that some 9,500 telephone numbers would switch monthly now that users could hold onto their original phone number.
Still, things could turn around. Bravocom Chairman Peep Poldsamm told reporters March 30 that the sluggish start was partially the result of a multitude of formalities in the process that made switching to a different operator inconvenient, bureaucratic and time-consuming for the customer.
Poldsamm said the best offers and prices for Estonian customers 's ones that would convince them to change operators 's were still ahead.
If, for instance, online services become available to more Estonians, it will be possible for one to switch to a different mobile operator using the Internet, he said.
For now, operators have left customers with the impression that there is a price war going on, Poldsamm said, even though there is none. Cheaper prices are being offered together with complex pricing schemes that include new tariff components, such as minimum bills.
The real price war, Poldsamm said, was being waged for corporate customers, who are more rational in evaluating offers and making their decisions.
According to Bravecom's estimates, the total price per phone number in packages for corporate customers has declined by 5 to 7 percent over the past month, whereas for individual customers the actual decline has been only a couple of percent.