TELECOMS

Vodafone accuses Telefónica and Jazztel of imposing a fiber-optic “monopoly”

British operator asks anti-trust watchdog to force rivals to open up their networks in fair conditions

British telecoms operator Vodafone has filed a complaint with the Spanish anti-trust supervisor CNMC accusing rivals Telefónica and Jazztel of colluding to establish a de facto “monopoly” in services that use fiber-optic networks to the detriment of other operators.

Vodafone claims its rivals’ practices are aimed at delaying and making less economically efficient the roll-out of new-generation networks by its competitors. The UK company accuses Telefónica of denying access to links to the interior of buildings besides making it impossible to negotiate wholesale prices charged by the former state monopoly to use its network and to reach agreements on co-investment in infrastructure as it has done with Jazztel.

Vodafone also claims that Telefónica has reached discriminatory agreements “with selected operators in a way consistent with its strategy” of excluding other competitors. It specifically names the agreement reached in 2012 between Telefónica and Jazztel for the joint roll-out of a fiber-optic network, and a deal struck with Yoigo in the summer of last year on the joint marketing of fourth-generation services. Neither Vodafone nor France Telecom’s Orange have rolled out fiber-optic networks.

The British operator has asked the CNMC to introduce precautionary measures such as setting prices for access to networks that reflect costs and forcing Telefónica to offer rivals the possibility of offering 50 and 100Mbps broadband services that replicate, both technically and economically, those offered by Telefónica itself.

Telefónica expressed its “perplexity” at Vodafone’s complaint “precisely at a moment in which the intensity of the competition in the Spanish market is not in doubt.” It said “all of its agreements with third parties are within the law“ and open to others, citing as an example the accord between Telefónica, Orange and Vodafone in July of last year on access to fiber-optic networks built by Telefónica inside buildings.

This is not the first time Vodafone has filed a complaint against Telefónica with the CNMC alleging anti-competitive practices. Vodafone and Orange filed a complaint against Telefónica and Yoigo last summer over their network-sharing agreement, which sparked the regulator to open sanction proceedings against them but without putting precautionary measures in place while a decision is being reached.

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