TPSA to dispute EU fine; completes TV sale

23 Jun 2011

Telekomunikacja Polska SA (TPSA) has been issued a fine of EUR127.6 million (USD183.57 million) for anti-competitive practices. The fine has been imposed on TPSA by the European Commission for delaying or obstructing rivals from entering the broadband market. According to the watchdog, between August 2005 and October 2009 TPSA ‘proposed unreasonable conditions to rivals, delayed negotiations, rejected orders in an unjustifiable manner and refused to provide reliable and accurate information.’ TPSA has issued a statement expressing its surprise at the fine, as it voluntarily halted the practices in 2009. TPSA has stressed that the ‘arguments regarding cooperation with alternative operators do not refer to the current situation.’ The telco plans to ‘take any and all possible and reasonable steps regarding the EC’s decision’ to challenge the fine, which is not yet legally binding. Companies have two months to appeal anti-trust fines, and request EU courts to annul or reduce fines. At 3.24% of TPSA’s annual turnover for 2010, the fine is less than half the maximum fine of 10% of annual turnover.

EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in a statement that the decision demonstrates the commission’s ‘determination to ensure that dominant telecom operators do not systematically hinder competitors who can make a real difference in the market to the benefit of consumers and businesses.’ As the only nationwide provider of local loop unbundling (LLU) and bitstream access (BSA), TPSA is obliged to allow access to its network to allow competition.

Elsewhere, TPSA yesterday completed the sale of its terrestrial television operator, Emitel to Montagu Private Equity for EUR432 million.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, at the end of March 2011 TPSA was the largest broadband operator by subscribers with 37.1% market share. Its nearest competitors, Netia and UPC Poland, had 13.1% and 10.1% market share at the same date.

Poland, Orange Polska (incl. Telekomunikacja Polska, Centertel)