By Matthew Vella
MaltaTel’s general manager Mario Gatt has announced super low-cost land line rates set to render harsh competition between the Islands’ telephony companies and challenge the monopoly held by the Maltacom monolith. The new telephony service is set to start off in April for Gozo and is expected to spread nationwide six months later.
Gatt said MaltaTel’s slogan of ‘Why pay more?’ will be the leitmotif of a service he said will remove the stigma in peoples’ minds of having to impose upon themselves restrictions on their telephone calls and use of internet service.
Gatt said the announcement of MaltaTel’s rates comes earlier than expected following the positive response from the public after its initial announcement in February. The company had to take recourse to the European Union after it found problems in its pricing structures due to the “phenomenal costs for the use of Maltacom infrastructure”. Gatt said the EU was following up the case with interest and that the company has been asked to supply documentation related to the matter.
MaltaTel subscribers will only be charged one cent for a five-minute telephone call on fixed line telephony, severely undercutting Maltacom and Easyline rates by an average of four cents. Clients will be able to change their phone numbers, using a 24- prefix instead of the present 21-, after March 2005.
Mobile telephony is also cheaper for MaltaTel subscribers, with calls to Vodafone and GoMobile subscribers at 6c and 7c respectively.
MaltaTel’s broadband connection will also be cheaper than its competitors, with a 1024/256K connection speed priced at Lm12 a month. The service will only be available to MaltaTel subscribers, who will not require a modem, just the company’s subscriber unit. There will be no download limit, and Gatt is guaranteeing that connection speed will be constant. “We have managed to anticipate by five years that which the EU expected Malta to have by 2010, that is, broadband being accessible to everybody. I am sure we are going to have a great demand for this service.”
Gatt has promised innovative and advanced technology will be the distinctive factor of MaltaTel’s service, saying that the company’s network will remove the stigma of expensive prices for telephony and internet connections.
Gatt said a Lm17 million investment will form the backbone of the company’s network, capable of taking new technology for the upcoming ten years. Signals will be sent from to the diverse base stations which will be erected across Malta and Gozo. Just one base station is expected would be enough for areas such as Valletta and Mdina, and have been international certified to be of no detriment to health, Gatt said.
As from today, clients can collect a MaltaTel catalogues from all Maltapost branches where they can find all the information required for subscription. Bargain Magazine will also be carrying the information pamphlet.
Clients will have to pay a Lm5 application fee for their subscription, Lm1 of which will go to the charity of their choice amongst a selection of six organisations. The application is strictly ‘an expression of interest’ in the subscription to the company, and the Lm5 is not refundable if the offer is not taken up.
The first 1,500 subscribers are also being offered a Lm200 offer for a four-day Paris break.
Prospective clients will receive a contract which includes all information related to the service provided. For the first year of subscription only, clients will pay Lm15 a month which will cover a Lm145 subscriber Unit. This charge is refundable if clients terminate the service.
Clients will also have to pay a non-refundable Lm10 for their connection box, which will be installed next to their telephone. The annual rent for the telephone line is of Lm25, and there is an additional Lm20 installation fee.
Clients will have the option of receiving Lm30 worth of free calls if they pay all initial charges at one go, or Lm20 free calls if they pay they in six months, or Lm10 free calls if paid within a year.
Additional lines will cost Lm15 a year. MaltaTel will also be operating a seven-days-a-week call centre between 8.00am and 8.00pm.
Corporate rates for the installation of the subscriber unit will cost Lm250, with an annual rent of Lm50 for two lines.