There are dozens of options and Fiber and mobile rate plans. And consumers are asking themselves if their company actually says they pay less or if they are raising the bill. Resolving this dilemma has become a mystery in Spain due to the lack of official statistics to the point that although almost half of households declare that their bill has been increased in the last six months, telecommunications spending is still very similar to that of a year ago. An apparent paradox with multiple answers.
The telecommunications packages as Movistar Fusion, Love of Orange or Vodafone One have been an advance for the consumer, who has in a single bill and with a single company all their fixed and mobile telephony, Internet and television contracts. But operators have taken advantage of these packages to periodically raise prices by adding new features not requested by customers (more speed in fixed broadband, more data, minutes of calls or auxiliary mobile lines).
The incidence of this practice, known as "more for more", on the set of prices for telecommunications services is not known because neither the Secretariat of State for Digital Advancement (Ministry of Economy) nor the National Commission of the Markets and Competition (CNMC) publish statistics on the cost of these products, which, although relatively recent, already hire 12 million households, which account for almost 80% of the total.
In the absence of data on the evolution of prices, it is necessary to resort to the so-called Household Panel that the CNMC carries out every six months based on consumer surveys. In the last one, corresponding to the first semester of 2018, 46.1% of the households that have contracted a package of telecommunications services with Internet reported having suffered a price increase in the last six months.
The latest statistics of the European agency Eurostat, to which this newspaper has had access, suggest that this increase has indeed occurred. Specifically, the fixed telephony sub-index packaged in Spain reflects an increase of 5% in the last year (September 2017 to September 2018).
According to the Panel, 82% of consumers rejected the practice of more for more, that is, the increase in prices applied by operators in exchange for more unsolicited services. 29% of households with fixed broadband recognized that the price increase was associated with improvements in the services offered by the operator; 7% did not know the reason for the increase and 12% did not perceive any improvement in the service. Among homes that are aware of improvements in service, 82% would have preferred to maintain their price and not benefit from the improvements introduced unilaterally by their operator.
However, the report stressed that despite the perception of households, during the first half of 2018, household expenditures did not increase substantially with respect to the expenditure at the end of 2017. In households with a quadruple package (fixed, mobile, data and fixed broadband) spending increased half a euro to reach 65.4 euros per month and households with a five-pack (plus television) spending remained stable at around 95 euros per month. But it is also that if we extend the term in a year, it turns out that the expenditure has dropped 2.4 and 1.6 euros in the quadruple and quintuple packages, respectively. How can this be possible if the three main operators applied two rises in their most popular packages of between 3 and 5 euros each in early 2017 and 2018?
One of the answers to this question is that, precisely because prices rise, consumers act defensively and to reduce their telephone and Internet bills they negotiate cheaper rates with their company or they change operators through the portability procedure. it allows them to keep both the fixed number and the mobile number. It is no wonder that in 2018 all portability records are being broken. Only in the first nine months of this year 5.6 million mobile lines and 1.7 million fixed broadband were changed company and it is estimated that in the whole of the year the figure can be around 10 million between fixed and mobile.
In fact, of the households that experienced a rise in their rates, 45% contacted their operator, but could not get rid of the price increase. On the other hand, 12% avoided paying more for their telecommunications offer and another 7% of households with price rises opted to change their operator, according to the CNMC Panel.
Another reason why the expense does not rise is the emergence of low-cost operators, second brands of large operators that are bursting the prices of the packages thanks to lower costs, since generally all their recruitment and management it is via the web, they take advantage of the infrastructure of their older sisters and they dispense with television (or at least pay TV rights for football or series. Telefónica has launched O2 and Vodafone counterattacked with Vodafone Bit. Before, Amena (Orange), PepePhone (MásMóvil) or Lowi (Vodafone) had already been implemented.
The president of the National Commission of Markets and Competition (CNMC), José María Marín Quemada, expressed this week his concern about the evolution of the prices of telecommunications services in Spain, and pointed to Eurostat data, to indicate that while here the prices increased especially those of packaged fixed telephony, they fall on average in Europe.
Marín Quemada recalled that when there were five operators prices in Spain fell, when there were four stabilized with a downward trend, then there were three and began to rise and now there are four and continue to rise. "We see this with concern," he said.
He also criticized the "more for more" and asked if the users want that more than the companies offer and they need it, and if the packages "are not a certain imposition of the operators". "Success is to offer each client what each client chooses and what each client needs in their sovereignty, not because nobody tells them," he said.