European competition authorities have swooped on Telenor’s offices in a surprise inspection over concern the operator may have abused its dominant position in the Norwegian market.
The raid was carried out by the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) Surveillance Authority, which says it has reason to believe the Norwegian telecoms incumbent has infringed European competition rules.
Judging by a statement on Telenor’s website, authorities are investigating whether Telenor (Oslo, Norway) has restricted competition in Norway’s mobile-phone market, and examining the sale of voice and data products as well as bundled offers that include mobile services.
Telenor has responded by saying it “has strict internal rules and procedures on compliance with laws and regulations” and that it “will co-operate with the authorities in carrying out the investigation so that it can be conducted in an efficient manner”.
According to data gathered by the Norwegian Post and Telecommunications Authority (NPT), Telenor’s share of the mobile-phone market was about 50% last year, while closest rival TeliaSonera (Stockholm, Sweden) served about 25% of all connections.
Their combined share was down from 77% in 2010, but the rest of the market is split between various providers, with Tele2 – the number-three player – accounting for just 8.6% of the market.
What’s more, in the lucrative mobile data market, the NPT estimates that Telenor grew its market share from 53.6% at the end of 2010 to 56.9% at the end of 2011.
In its recent third-quarter earnings update, Tele2 (Stockholm, Sweden) said the rollout of its mobile network had been delayed due to “co-location problems with some of the competitors”.
“The co-location problems have been brought to the attention of the regulator and the Department of Transport and Communications,” stated the company.