MEO revises data on actual use of public pay-telephones

The universal service of public pay-telephones provided by MEO registered an average of one call per public pay-telephone per day over a period of one year (April 2016 / March 2017) according to corrected data reported by MEO in August and subsequent revisions. This number is half the volume of calls previously reported to ANACOM.

This correction of data reported by MEO further supports the recommendation that ANACOM made to the Government in May, setting out that designation of providers for the universal service was not warranted, in particular for the public pay-telephone service, given that the use of public pay-telephones is at an extremely low level (actual use of one call per public pay-telephone per day and not two calls per public pay-telephone per day as considered in the report published on 18 May 2018 on the review of the conditions governing provision of the universal service for electronic communications in its various components).

In total, according to new data from MEO, a total of 3.1 million calls were made using public pay-telephones, about half the number previously reported (6 million calls).

The magnitude of the revision is due to the exclusion of automatic routine calls generated by the management system, which should not be considered for the purposes of determining actual use of public pay-telephones. On the other hand, the review included calls, albeit a small number, that MEO was not considering in its calculations.

Of the total number of public pay-telephones that exist in Portugal, only 42% are associated with the universal service, corresponding to 8,222 pay-telephones (5% of these did not register any calls). The majority of public pay-telephones in Portugal (58%) are operated commercially by different operators.

According to ANACOM, the costs of financing new provider designations for the universal service, both for the market as a whole and indirectly for end-consumers, are disproportionate and unjustified given the lack of relevant benefits.

The universal service of public pay-telephones, which are mainly used in situations where callers have no balance available on their mobile phones or have no battery, costs the sector 12.3 million euros over five years. In addition, public pay-telephones have not been used as an alternative for making calls in emergency situations, nor do they offer greater resilience.

Most countries of the European Union (15) do not designate universal service providers for public pay-telephones: Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Cyprus, Sweden, Hungary, Denmark, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Latvia, Finland, Estonia, France and Luxembourg. .

Although, in ANACOM's view, the continued existence of public pay-telephones is not in question, operated by operators, as already occurs in the majority of cases, ANACOM has been monitoring the market to assess the need to adopt alternative solutions.


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