ESA concerned over possible abuse of dominant position by Telenor Norway in mobile markets

2 Feb 2016

Concerns that Norway’s Telenor may have abused its dominant position by obstructing competitors in two markets involving the provision of mobile communications services to Norwegian users have been raised by the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA). In a press release the watchdog confirmed it had sent a Statement of Objections to the Norwegian operator in which it sets out the preliminary conclusions of an in-depth investigation into the matter. This statement reportedly concerns Telenor’s conduct in three Norwegian markets, those being: the market for wholesale mobile access and origination services; the market for mobile broadband services to residential customers; and the market for mobile communications services to business customers.

As per the ESA’s preliminary view it claims that Telenor’s pricing of access and origination services at the wholesale level likely impeded competing offers in the market for mobile broadband services to residential customers. Specifically, it alleges that between January 2008 and December 2012 Telenor charged prices to wholesale customers that were higher than the ones offered to residential mobile broadband users. Meanwhile, in the market for mobile communications services to business customers the Authority has suggested that clauses in Telenor’s contracts may have impeded competition by making it difficult for its customers to switch provider and by making it overly expensive for competitors to capture customers from Telenor. Such clauses, it noted, tied Telenor subscribers into a two-year contact period and imposed a high penalty fee for early terminations. The ESA said it was of the preliminary view that Telenor had infringed the EEA competition rules also in this respect.

With Telenor’s conduct said to still be ongoing, the Authority noted that it is investigating the period from January 2008 to the present. Meanwhile, Telenor has been invited to comment on the Statement of Objections by 11 April 2016. Should the ESA’s preliminary conclusions be confirmed it said that it may adopt a decision requiring the operator to cease the conduct in question, while it may also impose a fine.

Norway, Telenor Norge