Minister bashes mobile firms’ ‘unrealistic’ claims

Minister bashes mobile firms' 'unrealistic' claims
Sweden's mobile phone operators may face tougher regulations if they don't improve network coverage and provide customers with more accurate information, IT and Energy Minister Anna-Karin Hatt warned on Wednesday.

Speaking at a conference organized by the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (Post- och telestyrelsen, PTS), Hatt said the government would introduce tougher laws if mobile operators didn’t act on their own accord.

“Let me be absolutely clear with you. It’s not okay that Swedish mobile customers don’t get what they have a right to expect. This has to change. There has to be an end to unrealistic promises. There must be an end to mobile coverage maps that don’t have any connection to what people experience in reality,” the minister said.

Hatt explained that she personally thinks new laws are the best way to ensure changes in how mobile phone operators behave.

“The truth is that if you aren’t significantly better at living up to your customers’ expectations, if we can’t see a solution on the horizon to these problems, it’s long from certain that we’ll be able to avoid [new legislation],” she said.

According to the minister, mobile operators should be prepared to make large investments in their networks so that they provide adequate coverage and can handle increased usage.

On Tuesday, Hatt found herself in the firing line during a debate in the Riksdag with opposition lawmakers accusing her of being passive in the face of increasing numbers of consumer complaints about mobile phone service in Sweden.

The opposition Social Democrats have put forward a promise of tougher regulation for mobile phone operators should the party win the 2014 parliamentary elections.

When asked about the minister’s comments, a spokesman for mobile operator 3 (Tre) said there was no need to have legislation for network coverage.

“We welcome all initiatives to have more accurate maps,” he told the TT news agency.

“The minister is right that there are problems with network coverage maps, but there are already laws regulating that, such as the marketing act.”

He explained that the maps show a “theoretical” depiction of coverage, that can’t be guaranteed.

TT/The Local/dl

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