Vodafone, KPN, T-Mobile fined by Dutch anti-competition watchdog

The three major mobile operators in the Netherlands have been fined by the Dutch competition watchdog for operating a cartel. The competition regulator, NMa, says that Vodafone, KPN and T-Mobile violated antitrust rules in 2001 by operating a cartel that exchanged information about the compensation they paid to resellers of mobile phone subscriptions.

The NMa fined the companies. KPN will pay €7.93 million, T-Mobile will pay €4.59 million and Vodafone will pay €3.71 million in fines.

However, these fines are a dramatic reduction from the initial ruling on the matter in 2002 when the three operators were fined a total of €88 million.

Following the 2002 decision, the three firms appealed to the Dutch Corporate Appeals Court (CBb), which in turn asked the European Court of Justice if sharing information over dealer commissions could be seen as anti-competitive. While the European Court supported the Dutch ruling, the operators argued that they had changed their business approach after the original decision in 2002.

The NMa said the lower fines are appropriate given the nature of the cartel, and that the legal time limits for prosecution have passed.

Dow Jones reported that none of the operators will appeal this latest ruling.

For more:
- see this Dow Jones article
- see this Telecom Paper article (sub. req.)
- see this Dutch News article

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