Bulgaria’s Commission for Protection of Competition (CPC) said on February 17 that it has fined telecom firm BTC 812 000 leva (about 415 100 euro), or 0.1 per cent of its net revenue for 2013, for unfair trade practices.
CPC said that the fine was the result of a complaint filed by several small cable operators, who claimed that the carrier offered several tablet models at prices well below those charged in retail chains to customers who signed new data contracts. The regulator said that its investigation found that between January and July 2014, BTC did engage in the practices described by the plaintiffs, breaching competition legislation.
Bulgarian Telecommunications Company (BTC) is the former state landline monopoly, operating under the Vivacom brand. In recent years, it has targeted the mobile voice and data segments with aggressive marketing campaigns in a bid to catch up with its two main rivals in the telecom sector, Telekom Austria-owned Mobiltel and Telenor Bulgaria (formerly known as Globul).
BTC argued that the plaintiffs did not compete in the same segment of mobile data and that it was normal practice for carriers to offer devices at discounted prices when packaged with mobile data subscription contracts, but the regulator ruled that the differences in the technology employed – mobile internet in the case of BTC, versus cable internet for the plaintiffs – was not sufficient grounds to dismiss the complaint.
The fine can be appealed within a period of 14 days at the Supreme Administrative Court, the regulator said.