RealTime IT News

Czech Telco Lowers ISDN Prices

SPT Telecom, the Czech Republic's monopoly telecommunications provider, recently announced a 40% rate cut for its ISDN services, offering customers a starting price of US$40 per month.

According the newest price list, installation of euroISDN2 (64 kbps) digital lines costs 9,950 Czech crowns (Kc), or about $320--40 percent less than the original price of Kc 16,000. Monthly fees dropped from Kc 1,600 to Kc 895 ($30), and hourly rates range from $1 in off-peak hours to $2 during peak times, the same as standard voice service.

The rates are still too expensive for most Czechs, however, whose average salary is about $400 per month, but the number of potential customers is growing.

With a market capitalization of US$4.5 billion, SPT Telecom is the largest publicly quoted company in central Europe. 51.8 percent of its shares are owned by the National Property Fund (the Czech government), 27 percent by the TelSource international consortium (KPN Telecom Netherlands and Swisscom, with support of AT&T), and the rest by investment funds and individual shareholders. SPT Telecom listed its shares on the London Stock Exchange in the form of GDRs on June 3, 1998.

SPT Telecom said it will maintain its monopoly for long-distance calls and many kinds of data communication services until January 1, 2001. It is a key part of the agreement between TelSource and the Czech government.

After the 1998 general elections, when Social-Democrats in the Czech Republic won and replaced the former conservative government, speculations about shorter terms of deregulation began to spread. At the moment, though, these rumors seem to be groundless.