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December 1, 2020

Orange and Vodafone fined by Competition Council EUR 63 M for abuse of dominant position

The two telephony operators have announced they will attack the decision in court along with the fine which is thought to be the largest fine ever issued by the CC.

The Competition Council (CC) has issued a EUR 63 M fine against Orange Romania and Vodafone Romania for abuse of dominant position.

“The decision was adopted during a meeting on Monday, February 14. Orange was fined EUR 34.8 M and Vodafone EUR 28.3 M, the fine representing a little over 3 per cent of the operators’ 2010 turnover,” Bogdan Chiritoiu, President of the CC, stated yesterday during a press conference, being quoted by Mediafax.

He added that the operators have the right to attack the decision in court and pointed out that this is the biggest fine ever issued by the institution. The CC started its investigation in 2006 as a consequence of a complaint filed by Netmaster Communications Ltd. The complaint concerned a possible abuse of dominant position on the part of Orange, Vodafone and Romtelecom on the call termination market. Netmaster Communications complained that a part of its customers’ international calls were blocked by Orange, Vodafone and Romtelecom.

“Basically, Orange and Vodafone asked Netmaster for an interconnection tariff of USD 0.15-0.18 per minute, in contrast to an upper level of USD 0.10 per minute set by the regulatory authority,” Chiritoiu pointed out. According to the 2006 information, the big telecom players allegedly blocked the calls against the backdrop of suspecting the alternative operators of fraud. The alternative operators were allegedly suspected of changing the identity of the calls terminated in Orange, Vodafone and Romtelecom networks in order to win more money.

“In Romtelecom’s case the investigation is about to be finalized, even though the two entities announced by mid-2006 that they reached an amicable settlement. Despite that fact the investigation started by the Competition Council will continue its course. The Council will soon announce the decision taken in Romtelecom’s case,” Chiritoiu added.

Netmaster Communications no longer exists, being struck out (merger through absorption). It was last listed at the National Trade Register Office on September 30, 2008. The company was bought by New Com Telecommunications, which in turn sold its customer base to RCS&RDS and Romtelecom against the backdrop of financial problems caused by the recession.

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