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Cellphones Can Seriously Damage Your Pocket

Albania has only two mobile phone operators - AMC and Vodafone. The absence of competition and effective government regulation leads to the inevitable. If I want to phone an AMC mobile from my AMC mobile it costs me 35 Lek per minute. If I want to phone a Vodafone mobile it cost 75 Lek.

To put that in more familiar terms, AMC to AMC costs 20 pence (GBP), 28c (EUR), or 36c (USD), while AMC to Vodafone costs 42 pence (GBP), 61c (EUR) or 77c (USD). You will not be surprised to hear that Vodafone's charges are exactly the same.

It was in protest against these charges and the informal cartel that keeps them at these extortionate levels that the Albanian Coalition Against Corruption organised a protest campaign. One of the posters I featured on a previous post was part of that campaign.

Under the slogan Cellulari Dëmton Rëndë Xhepin, they called on cellphone users to switch them off for an hour on 8th June. The Coalition claimed that 75% of the 300 cellphones they called during the protest had been switched off.

It was a good idea, but it is hard to see it succeeding. With no serious competition, people have nowhere else to go. With no government regulation to break up informal cartels and complex monopolies the companies really have nothing to fear.

Instead they can go on proclaiming their commitment to consumer choice and the market while acting exclusively in their own interests through their anti-competitive practices.

The poster in the photograph above is in my possession since I liberated from a tree downtown. If anyone would like it I can post it to you for 75 Lek per mile.


Anonymous said…
Just to add a little bit of info; it doesn't really help that both companies are Greek owned. The Greeks are really good at arm twisting.

Anonymous said…
With reference to the above comment, Vodafone in Albania may still have Greek senior management, but Vodafone in Albania is owned by Vodafone Group PLC - a United Kingdom based Public Limited company in which anyone can buy shares.
ローラ said…
Greek owned-Greek managed


The twig is bent.
Anonymous said…
Regarding post #2:

"Vodafone Albania is the second largest mobile operator in the country. It is majority owned by Vodafone Group PLC, the UK-based global wireless operator, and is managed by its subsidiary Vodafone-Panafon S.A., the Greek mobile telecoms company"

Now, we can discuss here all day long (we're known for doing that) but I seriously doubt that the holding company in Britain really deals much with V Al. In that sense, V-P controls (read "owns") V Al.

We can all start buy shares in V PLC but with a current market cap of $123.6 B it would take a long time to get controlling interest :)

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Never did like that crappy song.

But it's true nevertheless.

Tomorrow in the wee hours of the morning we will be heading for the airport for the last time. I suppose it was too much to expect that I could have kept this going while getting ready to leave. So apologies for the lack of postings over the last weeks. This is post number 380 something so I suppose one post every two days is not a bad average.

There were probably 380 more in my head or scribbled down on scraps of paper, but many of them are perhaps best left there.

I suppose I should be penning - or typing - my final thoughts and reflections on two years in Tirana, but right now I don't have any. Maybe in a month or two though I might come back with something.

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Welcome to Our Man in Tirana. I moved to Tirana, capital of Albania, in October 2005 and left in October 2007. This blog is a mix of photographs, reports, links, impressions and, undoubtedly, prejudices relating to the city and the country.

Since I am no longer in Tirana I am no longer updating this blog. However, there are over 300 posts covering this two year period and I hope that they are still of some interest.

So if you are curious about Albania or if you are planning to visit I hope this blog will be of value.

Miss Globe 2007

On Saturday, we were at the Rogner meeting with an expat friend who was leaving Tirana. It was breakfast time, and as our friend was finishing his tea the breakfast room started to fill up with over-dressed (or under-dressed) young women wearing blue sashes. These were the contestants for the Miss Globe 2007 beauty pageant being held in Tirana tonight at the Palace of Congresses. High heel boots and mini-skirts - or in a couple of cases micro-skirts, or possibly just belts - have never struck me as obvious breakfast attire, but the girls seemed happy enough tottering and wobbling around with their tea and toast. I'm not sure why they were wearing their sashes - perhaps in case they forgot which country they came from.
As we were leaving they were boarding a large coach which I had seen a number of times around the city in the last few days for their next trip. I'm not sure how some of them made it up the steps, or how they managed to sit down, but perhaps these are the kinds o…