Vodafone NL sues KPN for delaying its multi-play ambitions

Vodafone Netherlands launched legal action against KPN, alleging that anti-competitive behaviour on the part of the incumbent telecoms operator delayed its ability to compete effectively during a crucial period for the Dutch multi-play market.

The mobile operator said KPN delayed by three years the nationwide introduction of Vodafone's competing triple-play plan, Vodafone Thuis (Vodafone At Home) -- which combines TV, fixed-line broadband and fixed-line telephone services -- "by failing repeatedly to meet its commitments to deliver the technology needed." That, in turn, had an automatic impact on Vodafone NL's ability to offer quadruple-play packages, which typically combine triple-play plans with mobile propositions.

Vodafone NL estimates the total damages to its business at €115 million ($126 million) because it was prevented from gaining a significant market share "in a crucial period when more than 100,000 households per quarter chose to move to 'all-in-one' propositions."

A spokeswoman for Vodafone NL said many Dutch subscribers started to move from using single-play to multi-play services from 2011 onwards. During this period, the incumbent was able to sell triple-play packages under the KPN and Telfort brands.

"The delays resulted in Vodafone Netherlands being unable to compete effectively with KPN (and cable providers) in the Dutch telecoms market until 2014," said Vodafone NL in a statement.

Vodafone NL CEO Rob Shuter said: "Markets cannot function without effective competition. Our challenge is that Vodafone relies on its biggest competitor -- the incumbent operator -- as a supplier in order to provide Dutch consumers with a competitive choice. KPN has repeatedly failed to deliver on its commitments and has instead seriously abused its dominant position. This is bad for consumers, bad for the development of the Dutch telecoms markets and bad for competition. We hope that taking this legal action will help to rectify the harm caused by KPN's actions and alter its future behaviour."

KPN told Telecompaper that it did not recognise Vodafone's complaints and would await the court summons.

The spokeswoman for Vodafone NL said that while Vodafone had access to KPN's fixed-line network, KPN was at the time the only provider of a platform that would have enabled it to offer TV services. Because the incumbent failed to meet its promises to provide that platform, Vodafone NL was forced to build its own technology to enter the multi-play market, the spokeswoman added.

Indeed, in 2013 Vodafone NL acquired the company Wiericke, which operates a TV platform, and completed its TV platform in April 2014.

Vodafone launched Vodafone Thuis in 2014, while its first quad-play offering under Powered Up -- which combines Vodafone Thuis with Vodafone Red mobile plans -- came on to the market this year. KPN launched its first quad-play proposition under KPN Compleet in 2013.

For more:
- see the Vodafone NL statement
- see this Telecompaper article

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