Austrian discount MVNO Hot has signed up 700,000 active customers since its launch in 2015, thanks to its sharp prices, Der Standaard reports. Hot CEO Michael Krammer said at a press conference that further growth is expected after the introduction of a new tariff plan. For EUR 9.90 customers get 4 GB of LTE data (up to 50 Mbps) and 1,000 minutes or SMS for 30 days. The tariff applies also for current customers. In addition, clients can port their numbers free to Hot. The operator wants to reach one million clients in the mid term.

Austrian, MVNO, Hot

However, Krammer’s company expects some problems after the implementation of the EU roaming regulation from June. It will disadvantage small operators, because they have to purchase expensive data packages abroad, while for internationally active operators the costs will remain within the company. One GB data thus costs EUR 7.70 abroad, while in Austria it is around EUR 1.70. Although the prices abroad fall by 20 percent a year, it will negatively affect discounter operators. The CEO of Hot estimates that the regulation will result in costs of EUR 7-25 per year per customer.

It does not plan to increase its prices though. It is not clear yet how the operator will handle the roaming impact. It might be possible that Hot will use the exceptions allowed in the roaming rules and charge additional fees. Krammer said he would prefer that wholesale prices for data abroad would be adjusted to the same level as those in the domestic market.

Krammer has several other plans for this year. In the first half, he will start a mobile operator in Slovenia. In addition, Ventocom, the mother company of Hot, will build a call centre. Krammer said they would create 25-30 new jobs. He is very satisfied with the cooperation with the food discounter Hofer, although the importance of physical sales is decreasing. Currently 60 percent of top-ups are done via the internet.

Asked about the slow implementation of the ‘broadband billion’ in Austria, he said it was disappointing the first tranche of EUR 101 million, of which municipalities obtained only EUR 39 million, went only to empty ducts. Krammer said that the support programme benefits the ex-monopolist A1 to revive its crumbling fixed network, which is the equivalent of providing “a dead horse with a new saddle”.

Austrian, MVNO, Hot

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