A new telecoms industry report, from Billmonitor – the UK bill analysis and mobile price comparison service – has suggested UK SMEs overpay by £1bn on their mobile bills.
Billmonitor’s report indicates that one provider was surprisingly more expensive than the competition, and suggested the cost difference between the cheapest and most expensive provider was 16 per cent for an average SME.
The company’s statistical model, which analysed bills from 356 businesses, comprising thousands of mobile connections, suggested with 89.9 per cent confidence, that EE is the most expensive major mobile provider in the UK for business contracts. Billmonitor also claims – with 75 per cent confidence – that O2 is likely to be more expensive than Vodafone. ?
“It is staggering that in a market so critical for businesses, there isn’t oversight to prevent SMEs falling victim to what is becoming its own ‘Wild West’,” said Dr Stelios Koundouros, Billmonitor’s founder and director. “We call on the CMA to investigate the business telecoms market, to take over the job Ofcom seems to show little interest in despite Billmonitor’s three year-long pleas, and ensure SMEs of all sizes get a fair deal when procuring a mobile provider.”
“The fact that one provider can charge firms with similar average usage significantly more than another is a symptom of a broken market. As we move into the post-Brexit era, empowering the UK’s SMEs with fairness and transparency – as the CMA successfully did for the energy market, whose uncompetitiveness was only half as costly for SMEs – should be a key point on the government’s agenda,” Koundouros added. ?
“These findings, if verified by independent investigations, raise serious questions,” said Tommaso Valletti, Professor of Economics at Imperial College Business School and currently Chief Competition Economist of the European Commission in Brussels. “Price differences of 15-20 per cent, not attributable to differential consumption patterns, indicate that a market is not close to being competitive. While generally we tend to think that competition among mobile operators is very intense for business customers, these results – again, if confirmed – depict a rather different picture, especially for SMEs,” he added.