March 3, 2017 / 9:06 AM / in 9 months

Czech parties to fast-track telecoms bill aiming to lower data prices

PRAGUE, March 3 (Reuters) - Czech political parties agreed to fast-track a new telecommunications bill before elections in October that could reduce mobile phone bills for consumers, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said on Friday.

Operators including O2 Czech Republic, T-Mobile and Vodafone, have been criticised by politicians who say Czechs pay some of the highest mobile and data prices in Europe.

Sobotka sacked his industry minister in February because he saw him as too passive on the issue.

“I welcome this agreement, because it guarantees customers that their rights will improve by the end of this election cycle,” he said.

Lawmakers will start processing the bill on April 4 and the parties have reached a “gentlemen agreement” to pass it before the current term of parliament ends in the autumn, Sobotka said.

He said he hoped the bill would help reduce mobile data prices and improve market efficiency.

The bill will give more powers to the regulator, which would be able to impose heavier fines on operators, and strengthens consumer rights to protect them from unfair contracts. (Reporting by Robert Muller; editing by Jason Neely)

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