Swingeing fines imposed on Dutch mobile networks

KPN, Vodafone, O2 to appeal

The Netherlands anti-trust regulator, the NMa, has imposed whopping fines on the country's five mobile network operators, for agreeing collectively to cut handset subsidies.

The five operators KPN, Vodafone, MM02, Ben and Dutchtone are fined €88m in toto, with KPN (€31.3m) and Vodafone (€24m) accounting for the lion's share. According to the regulator, the size of their fines reflect their role in initiating a meeting in July 2001 to agree lower mobile-phone subsidies.

This agreement was "negative for the consumer because the competition between the different companies was terminated," the regulator said by way of press release, Bloomberg reports. (An English version The press release has yet to make its way onto the regulator's website, but if and when it does, you'll find it here.)

KPN says the fine is excessive and it will appeal. Vodafone says it will appeal, once it has read the regulator's report in full. MMO2, fined €6m, will also appeal. Spokesman Simon Gordon told Bloomberg: "We didn't attend meetings with other operators or collude on handset subsidies. We're surprised by the fine." ®

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