Out-Law News 1 min. read

Telecoms providers under watch of EU competition regulator

The way in which telecoms companies transmit data and provide content will continue to be monitored by the European Commission despite the regulator electing to close an investigation it had launched into competition in "the internet connectivity markets".

In July 2013 the Commission revealed that it had conducted a number of unannounced inspections at the premises of some telecoms companies operating in the EU amidst concern that those businesses had been abusing a dominant market position, in breach of competition rules.

At the time, the Commission stressed that it is was important that content providers were able to connect to the internet in order to sell products and services to business and consumer customers and that internet users equally required a certain "quality of service" to access that content.

The Commission has now explained that its investigation into the market did not find any breach of competition laws. It said it had reviewed whether the actions of telecoms companies had shut out rivals from "either the internet transit market or internet content markets".

"The European telecoms operators which were investigated all provide internet access services to end users and often have an in-house internet transit division," the Commission said. "This allows them to charge for interconnection capacity and, in the absence of commercial agreement with certain third party transit operators, may also have the effect that traffic from certain routes becomes congested at the point of entry into domestic networks, causing a deterioration in service quality."

"The Commission found no evidence of behaviour aimed at foreclosing transit services from the market or at providing an unfair advantage to the telecoms operators' own proprietary content services, in breach of EU rules that prohibit the abuse of a dominant market position," it said.

Despite closing its investigation, the Commission said it would continue to monitor the telecoms sector to ensure the principle of fair competition is being preserved by operators that deliver connectivity services as well as their own content.

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