ANACOM “incompetent” says Altice
The pressure on the Portuguese telecoms regulator ANACOM from all sides to cave in to big business monopolies in Portugal is growing.
Last week the Prime Minister António Costa slammed the current 5G auction run by the market regulator as “the worst possible auction for 5G ever” and now the CEO of Altice Portugal has stuck the knife in accusing the regulator of being “incompetent” and of “creating laws that are illegal”.
In a conference, Alexandre Fonseca said there was a “real conflict in regulation” of the sector in Portugal and agreed with the prime minster that the regulator thought it was “above accountability” and the law.
“This is a sector (telecoms) that has constantly been under attack. A fierce and unjust attack by those who one would never imagine would have done so: our own sector regulator. A regulator which doesn’t understand the sector, a regulator that is incompetent, a regulator that attacks the sector in a hostile manner, that destroys value and that creates laws that are illegal”, he said.
Alexandre Fonseca also slammed the entity for creating “asymmetrical conditions” for those which had invested over the last three decades in Portugal in favour of those who might or might not someday consider investing in Portugal” — in a reference to parts of the 5G spectrum which have been reserved for new entrants.
There have been increasing call for the resignation of ANACOM President João Cadete Matos which is possible on the regulator’s statute books, but would require a full investigation carried out by an independent entity.
The sector is also not happy with the tax in the budget levied on paid for TV: the proposal for the State Budget of 2022 will double the annual tax that companies like Meo (an Altice brand) will have to pay for each subscriber to €4 per year.
Alexandre Fonseca said he was not satisfied with the proposal. “The TV subscription tax will double for operators which are here making investments while streaming platforms based in other countries which don’t even have customer service in Portuguese continue to escape these taxes”.
But ANACOM said it made the changes to the auction rules to speed it up as the rest of Europe is converging towards the rapid use of 5G as a fundamental instrument for digital transition and the competitiveness of their economies.
It has agreed that “the excessive prolonging of the auction can only be viewed — as has publicly been stated by different interested parties — as strongly damaging to national interests, companies and the population, particularly those living in remote, low population density areas of Portugal, putting at risk the rapid achievement of objectives which are in the public interest” and puts the blame squarely at the door of the big three Altice, Nos and Vodafone which it says are responsible for dragging the auction out.