Czechs succumb to mobilemania as Christmas comes around

05-12-2000

When Czechs gather around their Christmas trees this year, many of them will find a very welcome present: a mobile phone. Mobiles are selling like hot cakes on the Christmas market. Olga Szantova takes a look at this popular trend:

Walking the streets of Prague, or riding the city's trams, makes me wonder whether there's anybody left to be given a mobile for Christmas; everybody seems to be carrying one, and, more often than not, talking into it. When mobile phones were first introduced in this country, in the mid-nineties, they were a status symbol. The up-and-coming businessman had to own one, and had to be seen using it. Nowadays they're a mundane personal accessory: there were 200,000 in the Czech Republic in 1996, nearly 2 million last year, and the number is expected to grow to nearly 4 million by the end of this year. Social commentator Rene Jakl says the dramatic rise is mainly due to Czech Telecom's often-criticised monopoly of the fixed telephone line market: