The Commission for the Protection of Competition (hereinafter the “CPC”) following the completion of a preliminary investigation of the complaint submitted by Golden Telemedia Limited (hereinafter “GT”) and having evaluated the evidence before it, issued decision, whereby unanimously decided that MTN Cyprus Limited (hereinafter «MTN») infringed section 6(1)(b) of the Protection of Competition Laws of 2008 and 2014 (hereinafter the "Law").
The subject matter the complaint lodged by GT on 15/9/2014 against MTN, was of an alleged infringement of section 6(1)(b) of the Law by restricting the provision of its services in a way that prevented the activities of GT in the market.
The CPC, in its decision, decided that MTN as a mobile telephony services provider holds a dominant position in its mobile telephony network in relation to its subscribers and the Premium Rated Services Providers (hereinafter the “PRS-P”) who offer Premium Rated Services (hereinafter the "PRS") to the subscribers of MTN mobile telephony services.
Premium Rated Services are electronic communications services relating to the transmission of content to electronic communications networks, by using Code Numbers of the National Numbering Plan. Premium Rated Services include, inter alia, (a) premium voice services (hereinafter the "Premium IVR") and (b) premium messaging services (hereinafter the " Premium SMS").
Since the beginning of its cooperation with GT, in early 2005, MTN has refused to provide GT with Call Termination Services to post-paid Subscribers by blocking calls to Premium IVR. As a result, these services could not be provided to MTN post-paid Subscribers. Specifically, from 2005 to 2007 MTN post-paid subscribers did not have access to Premium IVR, while from 2007 until July 2015, MTN imposed restrictions to its post-paid subscribers on the use of Premium IVR, as they had to pay the sum of 170 euros as a financial guarantee in order to have access to such services. The complete lifting of the restriction that led to the uninterrupted provision of the service was achieved in July 2015.
Due to MTN's decision to block or impose restrictions on calls carried out by its mobile post-paid subscribers to Premium IVR, between 2005 and early July 2015, GT was unable to offer Premium IVR to them. The CPC concluded that MTN’s decision led to the restriction of the Premium IVR services to the detriment of consumers for a period of 10 years (from 2005 to 2015). The CPC, on the basis of the evidence before it, unanimously decided that MTN infringed Section 6(1)(b) of the Law.
Therefore, the CPC, acting on the basis of Section 24(a)(i) of the Law, decided to:
(A) Oblige MTN to avoid any repetition of the infringement of Section 6(1)(b) of the Law in the future.
(B) Impose an administrative fine of €237.181,76 (two hundred thirty-seven thousand one hundred eighty-one euros and seventy-six cents) to MTN regarding the infringement of Section 6(1)(b) of the Law.
The CPC's decision has been published in the Official Gazette of the Republic on 20/9/2019 and may also be found on the CPC's website.
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