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Eesti Telefon changes tariffs

  • 2000-08-31
  • Aleksei Gynter

TALLINN - Starting Oct. 1, the Estonian fixed-line monopoly Eesti Telefon will raise the price of local calls in order to stop cross-subsidization.

Long-distance and international calls will become cheaper by up to 68 percent and 25 percent respectively.

The main motive for changing the prices is the telephone company's will to stay in the communications market after the end of its monopoly in 2001.

Local calls on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. will cost 0.24 Estonian kroons ($0.014) instead of the present 0.16 kroons per minute. On weekdays from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. and on weekends from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. phone calls will cost 0.18 kroons per minute instead of the current 0.08 kroons per minute.

The night tariff, applicable from 1 a.m. to 7 a.m., will remain the same - 0.08 kroons per minute. A new package for dial-up users, including the possibility to pay less per minute in exchange for a fixed service fee, will be available soon.

"As for the local calls, we can say the new price is harmonized with our expenses," Valdo Kalm, Eesti Telefon board member told BNS.

But Riina Saar, director of the Consumer's Defense Union, assessed the ET's decision negatively.

"Lower-class people make mostly local calls. The rise of the prices will affect those people first of all. Besides, the rise was not coordinated with our union," said Saar.

Saar said the board of the union is going to meet on Aug. 30 to discuss possible measures against Eesti Telefon. But she admitted the union has no time to change the resolution of the phone company.

The Consumer's Defense Union is a non-commercial organization established to protect consumers' rights in Estonia, and works in cooperation with the Department of Consumers' Defense, a state institution.

According to Anu Vahtra, public relations manager of Eesti Telefon, the company does not have to coordinate its decisions with any of the aforementioned organizations.

"But we considered it in good form to notify them of the coming changes in Eesti Telefon's price policy," she said.

International long-distance call tariffs will drop by 25 percent, the company announced.

Eesti Telefon is not worried about possible outflow of customers due to higher prices, because mobile communication is still much more expensive.

"Besides, ET is not only raising prices, but cutting them as well. We do not benefit from that," said Vahtra.