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EU competition inspectors RAID European telcos

Turn up unannounced over suspected violations of antitrust rules

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The competition wing of the European Commission confirmed today that it was investigating alleged antitrust practices among a number of telecoms giants operating in the 28-member-state bloc.

It declined to comment on which countries and companies were subjected to unannounced inspections on their premises at the beginning of this week on Monday, 9 July.

The search was conducted by officials from Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia's office and counterparts from the relevant national authorities.

The Register understands that no such inspections were carried out in Britain.

Orange SA in France and Deutsche Telekom AG in Germany separately confirmed that they were being probed by the EC over alleged violations of European Union antitrust regulation relating to abuse of dominance claims.

It's been reported that Spain's Telefonica SA was also raided by inspectors, but the company has so far refused to comment.

The commission said in a non-specific statement:

Internet players interconnect with each other through a combination of wholesale services to cover all possible internet destinations. Internet connectivity allows market players (e.g. content providers) to connect to the internet so as to be able to provide their services or products at the retail level.

This service is crucial for the functioning of the internet and for end users' ability to reach internet content with the necessary quality of service, irrespective of the location of the provider.

It added that the inspections were the first step into "suspected anti-competitive practices." But it said the raids did not represent an admission of guilt on the part of the companies targeted at this point.

The probe itself has no legal deadline, the commission added. ®

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