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Czech O2, T-Mobile CZ and Cetin offer to settle EU anti-trust charges

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Saving on infrastructure costs could lead to merger, says EC

Two Czech mobile operators and a network builder have been in trouble with the European Commission for cost sharing.

Deutsche Telekom's Czech mobile operator, 02 Czech Republic and Czech telecoms infrastructure provider Cetin have offered concessions to settle charges of restricting competition, EU antitrust regulators announced on Friday. The companies could avoid a possible fine and a verdict of wrong doing if the offer is accepted, Reuters reported.

Acting in its role  as the competition enforcer for 27 European countries, the European Commission (EC) issued charges, in 2019, that the companies had been guilty of network sharing. Though mobile operators may want to share networks to cut their costs and save time, the EU sees these collaborations as a breach of competition regulations.

Sharing costs against competition rules

The Czech operators made their network sharing pact in 2011 and had subsequently expanded on the arrangement. EU competition enforcers interpreted these as the beginnings of a merger. 

The companies had offered to modernise the mobile network by using multi-standard Radio Access Network (RAN) equipment in certain radio frequency layers. They also began to review the financial conditions for unilateral network deployments.

Following the EC ruling the mobile miscreants must ensure that investments or services provided by their partners on their behalf will be cost-based pricing. They must ensure they restrict their information exchange to that which is necessary for the operation of the shared network. The companies will also take measures to ensure that infrastructure builder Cetin doesn’t spill information between Czech T-Mobile and O2 CZ.

The Commission says it will decide whether to accept the offer following feedback from third parties. The proposal would remain in force until October 28th 2033, if accepted.