Regulators threaten to cancel Oi Telecom sale amid stalemate on roaming prices

oi roaming regulators
Photo: José Cruz/ABr

Carlos Baigorri, chair of Brazil’s telecommunications agency Anatel, told several media outlets on Thursday that he will work to overturn the injunctions obtained by Claro, Telefônica, and TIM — the three largest mobile telephony providers in the country — to suspend the regulator’s decision to establish a reference price for roaming services.

Even reviewing the regulator’s approval of the sale of Oi’s mobile operations to the three aforementioned companies is on the table.

Mr. Baigorri told Telessíntese, a news outlet specializing in telecoms, that the standardization of roaming prices is a crucial measure to reduce the effects of mobile telephony market concentration. The agreement on establishing a reference price for roaming services is part of the agreement for the partial sale of Oi.

Anatel intends to file appeals against the roaming injunctions next week, explaining its cost model to determine baseline roaming prices. Mr. Baigorri also stated that Anatel would join forces with antitrust regulator Cade and the trustee, which is monitoring compliance around the deal signed by the buyers of Oi assets, aiming at a unified front against the companies.

After being granted extensions, Claro, Vivo, and TIM had to deliver their wholesale product reference offers to the agency by last Friday. On the same day, however, the companies filed an appeal in court against the decision.

Claro, the first to obtain an injunction, said in its appeal there were “three faults” in the agency’s decision. The judge who granted the request understood that the criteria and calculations Anatel used to arrive at the reference price were unclear, violating the public agency’s obligation to publicize its acts.

Another point questioned by the carriers is that Anatel altered its calculation methodology, changing the top-down FAC-HCA model used since 2014 for the bottom-up LRIC+ model, which is based on a projection of the company’s future costs. According to the companies, this methodology does not adequately factor in costs that operators incur when providing the service.

Anatel, in turn, said that it changed its methodology precisely to stimulate efficiency and competitiveness in the market and that this will be duly explained to the courts.