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Czech Trade Minister: High Data Charges in the Czech Republic are Due to Czech People Using So Much Public WiFi

Commenting on the high price of mobile data in the Czech Republic, Trade Minister Marta Nováková (ANO) said that it is the fault of customers themselves, who would rather use public WiFi and are therefore depriving the mobile service providers of revenue. Photo credit: Freepik.

Czech Rep., Feb 19 (BD) – The price of mobile data in the Czech Republic is among the highest in Europe; unlimited data can be purchased in many European countries for around CZK 750 a month, whereas Czech customers will only receive between three and seven gigabytes for this price (according to the data of “dTest” online magazine). The issue has been frequently mentioned by Czech politicians, including Prime Minister Andrej Babis, who has strongly criticised the high charges. The previous government headed by Bohuslav Sobotka also said that they were pushing for lower charges.

However, speaking to Ceska Televize’s show 168 Hours, the Trade Minister Marta Nováková said that the situation was due to Czech consumers themselves. Nováková claimed that if Czechs were more willing to pay for expensive data, the profits made by the mobile operating companies would increase and they would be able to reduce their tariffs. She pointed to the large investments made by the operators to build a mobile network, running into billions of crowns, and said that when so few consumers were actually paying for the data, prices had to be kept high for the companies to recoup their costs from the few customers they have.

During the interview, Nováková said that “when you keep saying to someone, we have expensive data, we have expensive data… So what do you do? You take your mobile, you don’t connect using data, but you go and look for free WiFi. And that’s where we are. Because we are using data less, because we are avoiding it, we are not contributing to it becoming cheaper. We need to change the climate in society, so people want to use data.”

However, quoted on Czech news website, economist Lukáš Kovanda had another explanation: “The operators have probably figured out that it pays to keep prices high, block the market and prevent competition, which is a state of affairs that drives their business more than if they lowered prices. Why the minister didn’t say this, that’s the main question for me.”

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