Armenia’s leading landline phone operator flattens incoming calls tariffs to live up to fair competition rules

Pending proceedings at a regulatory body have made ArmenTel, Armenia's telecom company holding a dominant position in landline telephony, revisit its tariffs in favor of a fairer competition in the sector.

After a complaint against the ArmenTel company lodged with the State Commission for the Protection of Economic Competition (SCPEC) by telecommunications services provider Ucom the biggest fixed-line phone services provider did not even wait for the regulators’ decision as it decided to flatten its tariffs last Friday.

The Ucom company was particularly displeased with the fact that calls from the ArmenTel mobile network to the Ucom fixed-line network were billed AMD 99 (about 27 cents) per minute, while to ArmenTel’s fixed-line network the calls are billed AMD 29,99, 39 and 59 (about 8, 10 and 16 cents).

“Because of the set tariff people have avoided calling to the Ucom landline network from their mobile phones, which has artificially hindered the expansion of the telephony services of the relatively new company in the market,” Ucom had stated in its complaint.

In the fixed-line telephony sector ArmenTel has a 99 percent of the market, getting 98 percent of the sphere’s revenues. Landline telephony services in Armenia are offered also by Ucom, Crossnet and Arminco, for all of which the mentioned AMD 99 tariff had been in force.

The SCPEC’s data show that VivaCell-MTS remains the leading company according to the proportion of mobile network calls – 64 percent, while the other two mobile phone operators ArmenTel and Orange have 24 percent and 12 percent, respectively.

“As ArmenTel has no dominant position in the mobile communications sector, the company had no intention of violating competition and did not assume that the tariff (AMD 99) might be regarded as a violation.

Nevertheless, since the rival’s discontent has become a subject of the Commission’s review, the ArmenTel company has decided to equalize the rates to all networks,” the company’s lawyer David Sandukhchyan stated at a SCPEC meeting on Tuesday.