The Guernsey Competition and Regulatory Authority (GCRA) has adjudged that JT and Sure broke competition law by ‘attempting to illegally control the provision of mobile networks in Guernsey, including the future introduction of 5G’. In a press release regarding the matter, the regulator said that – after opening an investigation into a suspected anticompetitive agreement between JT and Sure in relation to their respective mobile networks in the Bailiwick – it had determined that ‘the nature and purposes of the exchanges [between the companies] uncovered by the GCRA were found to go well beyond legitimate purposes’. Of note, the GCRA said that its investigation had initially focused on a suspected agreement in relation to 5G, but as further evidence was uncovered it was expanded to include all mobile networks operated by the JT and Sure.
According to the GCRA, its investigation found that over a period of approximately one year, through repeated contacts and exchanges of information, JT and Sure developed a joint plan that would mutually benefit each in their home markets without disclosing it to either the GCRA or the Jersey Competition and Regulatory Authority (JCRA). Further, the two companies were said to have exchanged information on their commercial strategy for introducing next generation mobile network at a slower pace than sought by the States of Guernsey; the duo, it is claimed, had discussed a common ‘line to take’ that they were working to roll out 5G in line with, or ahead of, the UK, while privately agreeing not to do so.
In terms of the next steps, the GCRA said it would be minded to impose a financial penalty where it found ‘a restriction of competition by object’, and it will now consider whether it would be appropriate to issue a draft penalty statement to JT and Sure.