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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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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.

Petrela Castle

This is Petrela Castle near Tirana. The site has been fortified since the 4th century, but the oldest surviving parts are from the 13th century. Today the castle is a restaurant where you can enjoy lunch while taking in the views.