Portugal accused of violating EU telecoms law

25 Oct 2005

The Portuguese government’s decision to afford former monopoly Portugal Telecom (PT) free access to public infrastructure networks has been deemed illegal by the European Court of Justice, which says that the incumbent’s fixed line business must be classed in exactly the same way as those of rival telecoms operators. Telecompaper writes that at a session held last week, the European Court concluded that the privileges held by PT in respect of non-payment of municipal taxes constituted an unfair advantage over the competition. Moreover, it added that the imbalance in taxes has placed a higher burden on alternative operators, which theoretically may have slowed down the pace of development of network rollouts in the country. In 2002 the European Commission called upon Portugal to change its telecoms law allowing such a scenario to develop, but the administration resisted change, arguing that PT needed the exemption to invest in and maintain the PSTN.