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Friday, July 23, 2021

Ooredoo fined millions for ‘anti-competitive, misleading conduct’

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The committee said the telecom giant‘s behaviour “misled customers” and averted them from benefiting from the best prices. 

Qatar’s largest telecom provider, Ooredoo has been fined QR3.5 million for engaging in “anti-competitive” conduct and “misleading behaviour”, the nation’s communications watchdog has announced.

In a formal decision issued on Saturday, the Communications Regulatory Authority [CRA] imposed financial sanctions on the telecom-giant for violating clear instructions regarding free access and customer protection rights.

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The first violation cost the company QR3m for refusing to grant access to its International Gateway Facilities at Al Kheesa Cable Landing Station and Ooredoo Data Center 5, authorities announced, breaching access rights and interconnection between licensed service providers.

By refusing to allow other licensed service providers access to its ducts, Ooredoo essentially prevents the development of competition across the country.

 

The telecommunications company also failed to file or obtain prior approval from the CRA for its fixed telecom services tariffs, which prevents legal control over its offers on the fixed telecom market.

This also means customers are left uninformed of already existing offers, breaching customer protection regulations and anti-competitive practices and in turn costing Ooredoo an additional fine of QR1.5 million.

Such behaviour, authorities said, misleads consumers and prevents them from benefiting from the best prices.

This is not the first time the Qatari-owned company is censured for its “reprehensible” anti-competitive conduct. In 2016, the CRA said that Ooredoo damaged the country’s economic development and drove up prices for consumers by engaging in “anti-competitive” conduct.

Read also: Ooredoo in Myanmar targeted by military spyware ahead of coup: report

In a strongly-worded formal decision, authorities also condemned Ooredoo for not giving rival firms access to its infrastructure.

The regulator said the telecom provider’s actions have negatively affected the state-owned Qatar National Broadband Network (QNBN) and Vodafone.

By refusing to allow these groups access to its ducts, Ooredoo “prevented development of competition,” the CRA ruled in a 41-page order at the time.

“In doing so, Ooredoo is likely to have maintained artificially high prices for consumers,” the CRA added in 2016.


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