2020 comes to an end with the UK’s paying more for the telecommunications service and getting less in return. It is time to look at what was relevant in this sector dominated by MEO (Altice UK), NOS and Vodafone.
According to ANACOM, the regulator of the national communications market, in 2020 there was a 3.3% increase in the average price of 3P packages (triple pay) with TV + Net + Voice, accompanied by a reduction in the quality of the service delivered.
MEO, NOS and Vodafone vs ANACOM
ANACOM is the antagonistic figure of MEO, NOS and Vodafone, the three main operators operating in UK, with a dominant position and often associated with price cartelism. That said, we now point to the conclusions of the market regulator regarding the main developments during 2020.
Between the months of October and November 2020, the three communications service providers increased their monthly charges with the subscription of the respective services in the 3P offers. The increase was one euro (€ 1), translating into a average increase of 3.3%. In summary, the UK’s started to pay more, regardless of the operator.
The price increase between the months of September and November 2020
Concomitantly with the price increase, which was applied simultaneously by MEO, NOS and Vodafone, there was a decrease in the quality of the service provided. ANACOM points out a serious break from 100 Mbps to 30 Mbps in the three operators.
Aggravating the above, the increase significantly exceeded the market inflation rate, ceasing to be a plausible cause. For the UK’s consumer in the context of teleworking imposed by the pandemic COVID-19, this resulted in more charges for accessing the fixed telephone service, cable television and Internet access, the latter being particularly essential.
MEO and NOS applied Internet traffic limits
ANACOM was particularly fierce in criticizing the limits imposed on internet traffic applied by MEO and NOS – 500 GB and 600 GB, respectively. The measure was considered atrocious in the context of teleworking and archaic, in the sense that it was no longer applied since the advent of broadband offers and free Internet access in UK. In other words, a setback without excuse.
The regulator also notes that NOS was the first to remove this limitation in Internet browsing, having since abolished the limit of 600 GB that it had applied.
Finally, ANACOM also accuses MEO, NOS and Vodafone of targeting a large percentage of consumers. That is, assuming that 3P offers are the most popular in UK – preferred by about 40% of UK’s, price increases and decreases in quality of service would end up affecting a significant part of the national population.
UK was at the tail of Europe
ANACOM also puts its finger on the wound when looking at the European market and compares the offers there with the list of options in UK. Considering that the price of 3P packages was already clearly unfavorable to the UK’s consumer, criticisms of MEO, NOS and Vodafone take on a new expression.
Citing the international price comparison operated by the European Commission in 2018, in October of that year the average price of 3P packages (TV + Net + Voice) was higher in UK than in the other European market. The differential was 2% to 12.7%, with UK at the tail of Europe.
However, they point out the exception of Internet offers at 1 Gbps, in which the UK’s had 22.3% lower prices than in Europe. On the other hand, this type of subscription was only made by about 1.6% of UK’s consumers.
Teleworking requires full Internet access
Again, ANACOM denounces the deterioration of the service and the increase in prices at a time when teleworking has become part of the new national paradigm. Something that requires access to the Internet, such as distance learning, two aspects that forced the UK’s to adapt quickly to the new reality and that demonstrate a lack of empathy on the part of operators.
The criticisms add up with ANACOM exposing the absence of alternatives to MEO, NOS and Vodafone in UK. Although there is a fourth operator, the lack of national coverage makes it impossible for many consumers to subscribe to its services.
Furthermore, MEO and NOWO were caught in a cartel scheme, as pointed out by the Competition Authority (AdC).
The regulator points to ANACOM as the operator that offered the cheapest services in the base package – 3P. Recalling that in 2013 the Vodafone package cost € 24.90 with 100 television channels, download speeds of 50 Mbps, free and unlimited calls to the national fixed network, as well as international fixed networks to 30 countries.
Vodafone was “The” alternative until 2018
As a result of this advantageous 3P offer, Vodafone has been the fastest growing operator in UK since then. However, prices also rose gradually, more than 20% during the last 5 years. Vodafone’s competitive edge has practically ceased to exist once it has equaled the prices of other operators since 2018.
Finally, ANACOM points to a narrowing of the options for UK’s consumers. With the gradual adjustment of values making Vodafone’s offers identical, if not the same in certain cases to those of MEO and NOS, in UK the competition has become a mere appearance.
Gradually consumers were forced – for lack of choice – to join one of the three operators with identical values. This is in case of new members, or in instances of contractual renewal.
This summarizes the state of the telecommunications market in UK during 2020.
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