Competition heats up in Estonian fixed-line telephony

  • 2000-12-07
  • Aleksei Gunter
TALLINN - Three tele-communication companies have so far announced new call prices effective from Jan. 1, 2001, the date Eesti Telefon's fixed-line monopoly will end.

Although Uninet Ltd. was the first to reveal their prices on Nov. 28, rival Levicom Broadband, operating under the Tele2 trademark, announced its prices two days later and offered the cheapest domestic long-distance calls. STV disclosed new prices on the same day, offering the cheapest calls to Russia, Finland and Germany.

None of the three companies will charge registration or monthly fees.

From Jan. 1 customers registered for the service of new telecommunication operators can choose an optimum phone company before making a call. More than 26,000 new potential customers so far have registered with the service provided by Tele2.

Eesti Telefon said Uninet's prices are higher than they expected.

Raivo Mihklesoo, vice-president of AS STV Kaabeltelevisioon, told BNS his company found it possible to make public only the prices of international calls, as STV does not have any strong agreements either with Eesti Telefon or mobile phone operators yet.

Ivar Lukk, president of Tele2, said his company provides up to 80 percent cheaper calls in all European countries where it is ope-rating. As of now, Tele2 prices are up to 50 percent cheaper than those of Eesti Telefon.

None of the new telephone service providers can offer local calls as the inter-connection fee for using Eesti Telefon's infrastructure has yet to be agreed on.

For example, to access the service of Uninet or Tele2 through the regular Eesti Telefon fixed-line network, a customer should dial operator code 100 or 102, respectively.

As all the new operators will use Eesti Telefon's network anyway when pro-viding long-distance calls, international calls and calls to mobile phones, Eesti Telefon set the price of originating service for other telephone companies. The per-minute price of the service in cheap and standard time is accordingly 0.18 and 0.24 Estonian kroons plus 0.24 kroons for the connection.

None of Eesti Telefon's competitors has a plan to build another telephone network as extensive as Eesti Telefon's and they will be forced to sign an interconnection agreement.

Eesti Telefon has invested about 100 million kroons in the system, allowing it to provide the originating service. The company has said that its originating service is one of the five cheapest in Europe along with Norway, Sweden, Great Britain and Austria.