Regulator rules on Euskatel Móvil case

14 Nov 2006

Spain’s Telecommunications Market Commission (CMT) has ruled that customers of mobile operator Euskatel Móvil may choose to transfer their services to either of the company’s co-owners, regional operator Euskaltel or France Télécom España (FTE), according to website EiTB24. Euskatel and FTE have been engaged in a bitter feud over the 460,000 customers of the Euskatel Móvil joint venture. Euskaltel is the largest alternative provider of fixed line telecoms service in the autonomous Basque region of northern Spain. In 1997 it struck an agreement with FTE (then known as Amena) to brand all FTE’s mobile services as Euskaltel Móvil in the Basque region. FTE took a stake in Euskaltel in return and the service was launched in January 1998. The agreement expires in early 2007 and the two companies were thought to have been in discussion to extend it and collaborate on the launch of 3G services. However, in September Euskaltel instead signed an agreement with FTE’s rival Vodafone Spain. The Vodafone agreement will replace the FTE deal and allow for Euskaltel Móvil to operate MVNO services nationwide over Vodafone’s network from January 2007. Euskaltel Móvil wanted to transfer all 460,000 of its current customers to Vodafone’s infrastructure at that date, but FTE claimed it had rightful ownership of the subscriber base and wanted them transferred to its Orange service, which it recently launched in the Basque region. The CMT now says Euskaltel Móvil clients will automatically become Orange customers unless they apply to have their mobile number ported to Euskaltel’s Vodafone-based service. All customers will have the right to transfer regardless of the original duration of their contract.