Big Three are guilty says regulator

20 Oct 2006

Russia’s Federal Antimonoply Service (FAS) has ruled that the country’s big three cellular operators violated antitrust legislation by charging higher interconnect rates to smaller players than they did for calls between their own networks. A spokesperson at the FAS has told Prime Tass that the cases against two firms, MTS and Vimpelcom, will be dropped because both those companies have now agreed to charge the same interconnect price across the board. The country’s third largest cellco, MegaFon, has not altered its charges, however, and is now facing legal action. MegaFon says it intends to appeal the FAS ruling. The antitrust investigation was launched earlier this year when smaller cellcos complained to regulators that they were being charged RUB1.10 per minute to interconnect to the networks of the top three operators, while calls between the big three networks were charged at RUB0.95. MTS, Vimpelcom and MegaFon say they introduced the tariffs to compensate for losses caused by the implementation of the calling party pays (CPP) principal at the start of July.