Bulgaria’s Competition Protection Commission has imposed a fine of 5.24 million leva (about 2.67 million euro) on second-largest telecom carrier Telenor Bulgaria for what the commission said was publicly disseminating false information about Telenor’s 4G services using the Long Term Evolution (LTE) standard.
The commission imposed a fine based on one per cent of the net sales of the company for the financial year 2015, amounting to 5 241 193 leva.
According to the commission, the duration of the infringement was about 10 months, from November 26 2014. The commission cited what it said were misleading posts on the Telenor website about the speeds in its 4G LTE network.
The procedure by the Competition Protection Commission started in April 2016 following a complaint by mobile telecom operator Max Telecom.
The commission said that Telenor’s claims about upload speed were “significantly exaggerated”. It said that Telenor had said that the 4G network had speeds about 40 times faster than that of its 3G network. But they were only about 6.5 times higher, the commission said.
This significant exaggeration of the data is likely to influence consumer attitudes to the extent that there was a significant shift of customers to the network of Telenor in November 2015 to April 2016, the commission said.
In a statement, Max said that it was satisfied with the commission’s decision.
“We are not against competition. On the contrary – Max is the biggest proponent of high-speed mobile internet in Bulgaria, but we not agree that ‘the big’ players try at all costs, even through targeted attacks, to destroy ‘the small’ competitors,” Neicho Velichkov, executive director of Max, said.
Telenor has not yet posted a comment in reaction to the Competition Protection Commission decision on its website.
(Telenor Bulgaria CEO Stein-Erik Vellan. Photo: Provided)