The EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) fined Telenor €111.9 million for historic breaches of competition rules after judging the operator abused its dominant position in Norway to push rivals into selling mobile broadband services at a loss.
ESA is responsible for ensuring Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein adhere to European Economic Area (EEA) rules. In a statement, it explained it began a formal investigation in 2014 which concluded yesterday (29 June) with the finding Telenor’s wholesale pricing strategy had scuppered rivals’ ability to make money from mobile broadband services using USB dongles.
Telenor increased wholesale prices for network access during a “critical growth phase” as consumer demand for mobile data accelerated between 2008 to end-2012 when Nordic operators were launching commercial 4G services.
Frank Buchel, ESA college member, said the operator had a “special responsibility” to not stifle competition through pricing practices, and its “unfair prices weakened competitors in a growth market”.
Telenor Norway MD Petter-Borre Furberg said the company was surprised by the decision and size of penalty, with the case concerning “a small segment of the mobile market which date [sic] way back”.
“We will review the decision thoroughly and are preparing to appeal the decision to the EFTA Court”.
Telenor argued there was “very limited demand” for dongle-based mobile broadband services at the time and highlighted the subsequent rise in demand for mobile data services were focused on phone services rather than USB-enabled PC set-ups.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back