Experts submit report on competition in wireless sector in long-running case against Proximus

6 Oct 2009

A preliminary report compiled by two experts appointed by the Belgian Commercial Court has been submitted, detailing the market shares and competitive conditions in the Belgian mobile sector between 1999 and 2004, according to informaticien.be. The report has been submitted as part of an ongoing trial in which mobile network operators BASE and Mobistar claim to have suffered losses totalling an estimated EUR1.182 billion (USD1.73 billion) in the five-year period as a result of allegedly inflated rates charged by incumbent Proximus. There is now expected to be an analysis of the report by the court, and all parties involved in the proceedings will be invited to comment on the document. Once the report has been considered, the Commercial Court is then expected to issue a final ruling on the matter, with consideration given to whether Proximus can be adjudged to have acted in an anti-competitive manner during the period in question.

The initial damages claim was brought before the court in July 2003 by Netherlands-based KPN Mobile, parent company of BASE, with Mobistar joining the legal challenge at a later date. The two operators claimed that Proximus abused its dominant position in the sector by applying excessive termination charges, while it offered call rates between its own customers at rates well below average retail levels. An initial ruling in May 2007 saw the Commercial Court reject the claims related to excessive terminations rates and alleged predatory tariff structures. However, the court said it was unable to make a decision on whether there existed a price squeeze or anti-competitive market conditions, and it subsequently appointed the two experts to further investigate the matter.

Belgium, BASE Company, Orange Belgium