The suggestion by mobile phone firms Vodafone, T-Mobile and KPN that they impose extra charges for the use of mobile internet services such as Skype and Whatsapp was ‘stupid’, Vodafone Nederland boss Jens Schulte-Bockum says in Monday’s Financieele Dagblad.
The Dutch telecoms sector can only blame itself for its poor image and has been unable to win back public and political trust because recent price rises have not been properly motivated and there is little transparency, Schulte-Bockum said.
The government was forced to intervene when Vodafone, T-Mobile and KPN said they would put up fees for using free internet services to compensate for the loss of traditional telephone and text-message traffic.
The eventual subscription price increases were made to sooth troubled shareholders and conflicted with the interests of users, Schulte-Bockum said. ‘At first there is doubt within the company itself,’ he said. ‘Is this an industry which will keep looking good in the future?’
‘But we did not realise that we cannot win this war, that we have to embrace changes in our market place,’ he said.
The price rises led to raids on the three phone firms by anti-cartel body NMa. The public perception that the companies coordinated their price rises is understandable but incorrect, he says. ‘The truth is that we all came up against the problem and all took action,’ he says.
Schulte-Bockum, 44, has headed Vodafone Nederland since 2008. Next month he moves to Vodafone Germany.
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