KPN to sue authorities for equal rights with cablecos

29 Jun 2006

The Netherlands’ largest telecoms firm KPN is reported to be suing the Dutch government in a bid to secure the same rights and freedoms enjoyed by the country’s cablecos, according to Reuters citing financial daily Het Financieele Dagblad. In an interview with the newspaper, KPN chief executive Ad Scheepbouwer said that summary proceedings against the Dutch state, an 8% shareholder, would start on 11 July in The Hague. The company is looking to better compete in the cable market where it argues that cablecos have become a ‘mature competitor . . . not bound to strict rules.’ Scheepbouwer is looking for similar treatment and warns that any failure to receive a judgement in its favour could result in a formal trial and a claim for damages which could run into the hundreds of millions of euros.

The head of KPN argues that his company is losing customers as a result of time-consuming regulatory procedures. As the former monopoly and dominant operator, KPN is barred by the regulator Opta from offering cross-subsidised services. In addition, the watchdog is required to approve KPN’s price plans and new services, a process Scheepbouwer says takes too long in a fast-moving market. He added that he had petitioned Opta, the Dutch anti-trust authority NMa, the Dutch Economics Ministry and the European Commission, over the matter, but to no avail.