European telecoms firms raided in antitrust investigation
EU watchdog launches inquiry after complaint from US-based competitor
Friday 12 July 2013
Brussels' competition watchdog has raided the offices of three of Europe's largest telecoms groups as part of an investigation into whether they are limiting customer access to services such as Skype and YouTube.
The offices of Deutsche Telekom, France's Orange and Spain's Telefonica were searched after a complaint by an unnamed US-based competitor.
The raids, which started on Tuesday, will help the European Commission to decide whether these operators are "throttling" services that use large amounts of data.
It has estimated that some 100 million Europeans have faced restrictions on their internet usage.
"The commission has concerns that the companies concerned may have violated EU antitrust rules that prohibit the abuse of a dominant market position," it said in a statement.
"Unannounced inspections are a preliminary step into suspected anti-competitive practices.
"The fact that the commission carries out such inspections does not mean that the companies are guilty of anti-competitive behaviour, nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself."
Companies can be fined as much as 10 per cent of their global turnover for breaching EU antitrust rules, although there is not yet any suggestion that the raids will lead to the imposition of financial penalties.
"Orange is co-operating fully with the European Commission's agents and at this stage Orange's practices haven't been incriminated," the company said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Deutsche Telekom said: "This market is dominated by major providers based in the United States, which means we are not the right target for these investigations. Deutsche Telekom is co-operating closely with the authorities to clarify the matter."
Finally, Telefonica added: "In relation to the inspections announced by the European Commission, Telefonica is closely co-operating with the commission."
Yesterday's news is not the first time European telecoms groups have been accused of market abuse by a company from across the pond.
Last year, the US internet company Cogent filed a case against Orange in France alleging that it was being overcharged for access to use the group's network. This was later dismissed.
Although the investigation is centred on the three companies, it could yet have wider implications for others across the industry.
Bandwidth "throttling" describes the slowing of internet services by an internet service provider,
It can be used as a tactic to limit a user's upload or download rates, and often occurs at peak times, when many people are accessing the internet at the same time, and is used to provide a standard service to customers across the board, rather than allowing a lucky few users to hog the bandwidth at these times.
Some providers will also throttle your service if they think you are approaching your monthly limit.
- 1 Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Driving while dehydrated can be just as dangerous as drink driving, study suggests
- 4 Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
- 5 One Direction: Louis Tomlinson launching his own record label, has already 'signed two acts'
Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
Professional big game hunter Ian Gibson crushed to death by elephant during hunt
Driving while dehydrated can be just as dangerous as drink driving, study suggests
Ben Affleck asked TV chiefs to hide slave-owning ancestry, new hacked Sony emails published by Wikileaks claim
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
iJobs Money & Business
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...
£50000 - £667000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / ...
£13000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...
£40000 - £45000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manag...