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RealTime IT News

Czech Net Users Protest Phone Fees

Hundreds of Web operators and more than 30,000 individual users are preparing a one-day boycott on November 18 against the Czech monopoly telephone company, SPT Telecom.

Users are upset over high telephone and Internet access charges that the government-run agency has imposed.

At issue are the fees for the local calls used to access the company's ISP. Czech customers currently pay $0.80 to $1.60 an hour for local telephone service, plus an additional charge to SPT for Internet access. While those prices seem moderate when compared with Western Europe, the average wages in the country are about $400 per month.

To make matters worse, SPT Telecom announced it will increase local phone fees by approximately 25 percent on January 1, 1999, and some insiders say it could be raised by as much as 62.5 percent.

To protest this action, several Webmasters are planning a boycott as well as a rally on November 18.

The protest itself possesses no direct financial threat to the SPT Telecom, but the negative publicity is unwelcome for the company, whose monopoly expires on January 1, 2001.

SPT Telecom representatives have publicly offered to talk with promoters of the protest, but no date or specific topic has been set.

Protests over Internet access fees have occurred throughout Europe recently. Net users in Spain staged a similar protest against Telefonica in September, and German users boycotted their ISP on November 1. Protest action is also being planned in Poland against its government-run telephone company, Telekomunikacja Polska S.A.

Related Link:

Czech Telecommunication Office Bans Internet Telephony