Univision subscribers oppose new plan limitations


Mongolia’s first triple-play telecommunications service provider, Univision,has received harsh criticism from its hundreds of thousands of subscribers after announcing that it would restrict internet usage starting from February 1, 2016.
A group of subscriber representatives held a press conference on Monday to express their discontent with Univision’s service and change in policy, and said that Univision customers would be investigating the legality of the matter.
Univision was launched in 2011 by Unitel Group as the first Mongolian triple-play service, offering internet protocol (IP) television,Voice over IP telephone services, and broadband internet access. The company attracted hundreds of thousands of customers by promoting the provision of HBO Signature, HBO Family, HBO Hits, and HBO HD channels on top of Mongolian channels available and unlimited internet usage. Univision currently broadcasts only HBO HD and has now announced that internet usage will be limited to improve speed, charging subscribers for services not provided as advertised.
Originally, Univision offered a package that offered television services and unlimited internet with a speed of one Megabit per second (Mbps) for 29,900 MNT a month. Univision’s recent decision restricts users to monthly access to 200 GB of data with a speed of three Mbps for 39,900 MNT, 300 GB for 54,900 MNT, and 500 GB for 89,900 MNT starting next month.
Representatives of Univision subscribers believe that this sudden change is a violation of their contract with Univision. They stated that they signed up for Univision in the first place because it offered unlimited internet usage. In response to this complaint, Univision states that the company can make changes to contracted service fees in accordance with Section 8.2 in the contract signed by subscribers. The contract states that this type of change is possible provided that notice has been provided at least 10 days in advance.
Attorney O.Badkhuu stated during the press conference that Univision’s contract doesn’t meet legal criteria.
“Univision announced that it would limit internet usage based on Section 8.2 in the contract. This will create a very poor standard in the future. If Univision is able to limit internet usage without listening to the opinions of its users, it can even terminate all channels ten days after an announcement. This law wouldn’t be considered legal if we submitted it to a court,” he said.
The representatives asked the Communications Regulatory Commission(CRC) and Authority for Fair Competition and Consumer Protection to hold Univision accountable.
When speaking about the matter, a representative from the CRC explained that the commission doesn’t have the authority to get directly involved in issues related to prices and tariffs for Univision or other cable television providers. The CRC is only able to control the tariffs of monopoly companies. Although Univision users say that the operator is taking advantage of a monopoly status, Univision doesn’t dominate the market or have monopoly status.
“A company has to determine tariffs based on its investment. For example, it should take account of how much capital it spends to provide equipment (modems) and internet traffic from abroad. The CRC merely provides pricing methodology,” stated A.Luvsan-Ochir, head of the Market and Tariff Department at the CRC.
The CRC hasn’t started reviewing complaints from Univision users at the moment. Two complaints reported to the 11-11 Center for comprehensive inquiries and public complaints have been transferred to the Authority for Fair Competition and Consumer Protection. Univision users put a lot of faith in these two organizations, but neither of them have given a favorable response. One declined to intervene in the issue, saying that it was out of their reach, and the Authority for Fair Competition and Consumer Protectionsaid that this type of complaint is frequently reported and that the authority is checking into the matter as part of its regular inspections.
One of the organizers of the press conference stated that he had received a positive reply from the former Head of the CRC, T.Ayurs, when he spoke to him about the issue two months ago. T.Ayurs was going to discuss this issue with representatives from Univision, but the case fell to the wayside with administrative changes at the CRC. The new Head of the CRC, D.Munkhtur, will need to pay attention to this matter if he wants to fulfill his role and protect the rights of thousands of consumers.
Many people have debated about Univision’s new decision on social media. One side supports the decision in consideration of Mongolia’s low prices for internet access compared to other countries. The opposing side points out that countries that charge higher fees have higher standards of living and provide higher salaries. D.Enkhbat, the CEO of Datakom Company, which first introduced internet services to Mongolia in 1994, tweeted that he was against Univision’s decision. He wrote that limiting internet usage is toxic, as it goes against the basic principles of the internet.
During the press conference, Director of the Board of Mongolian TOP 8 Club N.Batzorig and sports commentator B.Amarsaikhan stated that Univision has been providing poor services lately. N.Batzorig gave the example of SPS sports channel, which reportedly lags frequently. He said that the only explanation he gets from Univision operators is that the company is experiencing technical errors, but the problem hasn’t been resolved for nearly two months.
Deputy Director General of Univision D.Jamiyansharav, who is in charge of Business Development and Planning, was asked about Univision’s decision to limit internet usage. He said, “Univision isn’t limiting users’ internet usage at all. All we’re trying to do is regulate internet speed when a user’s data usage reaches a certain level. This doesn’t mean that their internet accessibility will be closed.”
When asked if the amount of internet access is sufficient, S.Jamiyansharav said that the company considers it sufficient. He added that a study conducted by Univision shows that 99 percent of Univision users use 49.2 GB a month. As the smallest package offers 100 GB, S.Jamiyansharav believes it’s more than sufficient and advised households with higher internet usage to sign up for M, L or XL packages.
Univision receives many complaints related to the speed of their internet. In regards to this, S.Jamiyansharav stated that the company isn’t responsible for slow internet, as it depends on many factors, such as the number of people using the internet simultaneously, distance from Wi-Fi modems, the workload of the server, and content being downloaded.
Since people have already signed contracts with Univision and are displeased with Univision’s services, it’s only right to cancel their contracts. However, this isn’t as easy as it sounds, because Univision users will face significant penalties. To receive Univision services, subscribers pay installation fees for television and internet cables and purchase modems. All of this costs some 60,000 MNT. These cables can’t be reused for other service providers, meaning that people will have to pay additional fees to install and connect to different operators. If a Univision subscriber decides to cancel their contract, he or she will need to speak with Univision directly. The customer can receive assistance from the Mongolian Consumer’s Rights Society and follow legal channelsif they aren’t able to settle the issue or reach a negotiation with Univision, according to A.Luvsan-Ochir at the CRC.

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Posted by on Jan 27 2016. Filed under Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

1 Comment for “Univision subscribers oppose new plan limitations”

  1. Note also that Univision have reduced the standard of their television package by removing the Universal channel, their DIVA channel is rapidly going down hill as an almost continuous cooking marathon and their other channels have random pixelating and freezing. Testing the market on how much you can get away with is hardly a reasonable marketing policy by Univision and of course, as a result, people will move contracts -thats free market activity. However potential abuse of a powerful position is not a free market activity and the open question to Univision is : Why alienate your customer?

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