PTS wants to make it easier to switch telecom and Internet operator

21/10/2010

Swedes are finding it more difficult to switch operators within electronic communications than their Nordic neighbours. The Swedish Post and Telecom Agency (PTS) is therefore proposing an amendment of the Electronic Communications Act to enable the Agency to take measures against conditions that are preventing consumers from switching operator.

Lengthy notice and lock-in periods together with the locking of mobile SIM cards to certain operators are examples of contract conditions that limit the potential of consumers to switch operator. PTS shows in its report entitled Möjligheten att byta [Opportunities to switch] that the opportunities for Swedish telephony and broadband consumers to switch supplier are significantly more restricted than for consumers in our neighbouring Nordic countries. PTS proposes statutory amendments in its report which mean that PTS could take action against:

  • Long notice periods. Almost all subscriptions currently have a three-month notice period; the maximum notice period for our Nordic neighbours is one month.
  • SIM card lock where customers have to pay a charge to unlock their phone. PTS considers that SIM card locks should only be permitted for a certain period, and subject to the precondition that the lock is automatically removed at the end of the lock-in period.

Notice periods are shorter in our neighbouring Nordic countries, at the same time as SIM card locks automatically cease at the end of the lock-in period. This is probably an important explanation for why other Nordic consumers are significantly more active when it comes to moving (porting) telephone numbers to other operators.

“Allowing consumers to choose and turn down offers without unnecessary lock-ins is a precondition for a functioning market. In Sweden we should try to be more like other Nordic countries in terms of the possibility to switch. The statutory amendments that we propose in the report should improve the situation significantly,” says Göran Marby, Director-General of PTS.

PTS also proposes by the report that the Government investigates a possible restriction of the maximum permitted lock-in period, and also that the Government assigns PTS to investigate how the bundling of services affects the mobility of consumers.

For more information please contact:
Anna Boström, acting head of Consumer Issues, tel. 073-644 55 23 or PTS's Press Office tel. 08-678 55 55.

Read the report (only in Swedish)

The Swedish Post and Telecom Agency (PTS) monitors the electronic communications and postal sectors in Sweden. The term ‘electronic communications’ includes telephony, the Internet and radio. The Agency works with consumer and competition issues, efficient utilisation of resources and secure communications. Read more at www.pts.se.