Charges filed against big three

18 Aug 2006

Russia’s big three mobile operators are continuing to deny allegations that they colluded to fix interconnection fees. The country’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) yesterday filed official charges against MTS, Vimpelcom and MegaFon, claiming that they colluded to lower interconnection fees between them to RUB0.95 per minute while charging other operators RUB1.10. A Vimpelcom spokesperson told Prime Tass: ‘We don’t think we have violated antimonopoly laws. The company was acting in accordance with globally accepted business practices, whereby partners agree on discounts [for each other] if the turnover of goods, or mobile traffic, between them is large enough.’ MegaFon added that interconnection fees are not subject to regulatory approval, while MTS insisted that it had broken no laws. Between them the trio account for over 85% of all Russian mobile subscribers. The case against them is scheduled to be heard on 28 September.